Is that a clue in that crack?

Tomatoes grow on Peterborough’s embankment

An enormous crack opened up on Henry Penn Walk and was reported (with extraordinary drone photos taken from above it) on 4th March 2021 in Peterborough Matters when a council spokesperson is reported to have said, “The current state of the walkway is a result of the structure, sheet piling, beneath the path falling.” On 2nd August 2021 the Peterborough Telegraph reported that the council and a corporate landowner were still at odds over who is responsible for the maintenance of this structure. This is an extraordinary standoff, given that a river is a highly dynamic entity, with carving into land and carrying it away away its favourite and constant sport. The embankment constitutes its urban restraint. Wouldn’t it make sense to fix the damage first and then sort out who owed how much in the courts? A few days ago I went to see whether or not the crack had been repaired I found a larger crack than I expected. Close up, the embankment undulates as if there’d been an earthquake or a landslip. A sort of fountain of subsoil sits at could conceivably be the source of the damage (if it got there by being thrust up right out of the ground). It is as if if water got stuck somewhere and had to burst up through what is a remarkably deep layer of tarmac. And guess what is growing just where that pile of subsoil is? Yes. Tomatoes. Of course, they could have been planted in an apartment garden. But wild tomatoes are common in the UK and they are celebrated self seeders. They can be spotted growing happily along railway tracks and wherever human manure distributes their tiny tell tale seeds. So my question is, given Anglian Water’s discovery of a major sewer works scandal not so very far away, at the junction of Wentworth Street and Bourges Boulevard this July (also reported to the council and in our local paper), has Anglian Water investigated whether or not something equally stinky might lurk beneath Peterborough embankment’s spectacular crack? Could damage to, neglect of, a blockage in or a fault in the drains cause damage on this scale? Or, conversely, could the crack have damaged a foul drain, enabling a tell tale seed or two to escape? After all, what force is there, other than water, capable of taking the huge corrugated steel retaining wall holding the embankment in place and bending it out of true? I’m no expert, but I can see that the embankment wall is not vertical any more. My theories about water transporting sewage carrying tomato seeds and pushing steel walls around might both be fanciful. But if anyone has a more sensible explanation, do tell. 

Wasting parliamentary time

The incidence of vote fraud in the UK is vanishingly small.

This post Brexit government seems remarkably keen to solve microscopic and even non existent problems. The incidence of vote fraud in the UK is vanishingly small. Very effective UK legislation to tackle vote fraud is already in place. QED Vote fraud does not need new legislation.

However imposing “voter ID” is highly likely to have undesirable, oppressive and discriminatory effects and our UK government and our MP know this. Because making it harder to vote suppresses the vote in groups which find things hard anyway.

But there would be no harm in raising voter awareness of vote fraud. Vote fraud can and has been effectively detected and prosecuted: here in Peterborough and elsewhere. In fact, anybody taking part in the electoral process can spot vote fraud and report it (as long as they know what to look out for). Moreover it is already a statutory responsibility of the police to protect our democratic systems. If you witness vote fraud while it is actually happening, call the police on 999. If you’ve seen it in the past, report it online. It is a crime, like any other. If our MP is aware of instances which have not been detected, reported and prosecuted, perhaps he could explain what advice he gave those who witnessed a crime and what the police did with all those reports?

If my MP believes that the incidence of what he believes is a problem is statistically higher than extremely rare in the UK or if a vote fraud has ever been shown to have influenced the result of an election, perhaps he or our new Police and Crime Commissioner could produce the evidence? Evidence of crime can overturn an election result in the UK, which is exactly as it should be. But while not having enough evidence to substantiate your case can be expensive when an accusation goes to court (as happened after Peterborough’s own 2019 by election) wasting his constituents’ time is not chargeable to our MP and even more unfortunately (given the urgency of what needs doing in parliament) no offence of wasting parliamentary time has yet been put on the statute book. Perhaps it should be?

Yes I did

but I did not expect to enjoy a real life murder related story based near Peterborough.

There are quite a few all too dreadful crimes connected with our area, some of them still under investigation, but I hadn’t come across this particular one prior to spotting the drama documentary in the tv schedule. I gritted my teeth and started watching, expecting at best a bit of a civic heads up for me. It looked as if it was going to be grim.

I used to go to the odd police panel (they preceded the introduction of the PCC) and here you can read my previous blogs about the new role of Police and Crime Commissioner and its disastrous roll out in Cambridgeshire (the quality of candidates selected for election by the Conservatives has been terrible). Sitting through meetings (whether they are community based panels or the meet-the-latest-commissioner-in-the-town-hall type) does give you some insight into what issues the police face and how their priorities are decided. So I know exactly why Mr Plod isn’t strolling down my street in his size elevens any more – but unlike many people I don’t have a problem with that.

But this docu-drama gives everyone stuck at home and not at all interested in going to meetings a view onto what police work is really like.

It turned out to be riveting. I am a huge fan of detective fiction on the telly. Obviously this isn’t fiction: anything but. But the story had me on the edge of my seat and nobody watching it needs to know a single thing about Sherlock, Miss Marple or Morse.

Hats off to everybody who helped put the case together and then: just as remarkable, the story about the investigation. Not easy at all. Well done.  Cambridgeshire is really good at the investigation of abuse: one of the toughest and least well understood let alone appreciated aspects of policing.

Very strongly recommended. Available for 30 days here:

Why Not Vote Tactically?

For people who’d like to vote Green

This post is for would be Green voters. But if your preference happens to be for a different party which has a history of not getting a proportionate number of candidates elected per votes cast, then this is for you too.

Every general election Green voters are bombarded with messages to vote for another party. Teams of people argue why on social media. Every general election is special for some unique reason and so, just this once, voters need to vote for someone they don’t really like, because the candidate/party they don’t really like happens to be less objectionable than the candidate most likely to win. So this year, in 2019, this Thursday, this general election is special because we are told that we are not really voting for our own area’s candidates on the ballot paper at all: we are voting for or against “Brexit”. The two main parties principal messages are about their opposite leader (as if that really made a difference outside their constituencies).

Even people who are not absorbed in the detail know this is not OK.

If you live in a safe constituency

If the last winning majority was, say, over 2,000 votes, you can vote for your favourite candidate full stop.

This is because how you vote simply won’t make any difference to the result.

If you live in a marginal

You might have to think rather more carefully. But of course 2,000 is just a random number. There are levels of marginality and you need to decide where to draw the line in your constituency. Go here to see the effect of marginality across the country and in your area.

If you want to vote tactically

You also need to understand why you are doing it. People who are not sufficiently well informed are highly vulnerable to manipulation and misdirection. Check what you believe is true. Check your own reasoning:

    • Are you wanting to stop the Tories?
    • Are you wanting to ensure the UK remains in the EU?

Depending on what your objective is, a tactical vote might or might not make sense. Here is a comparison, on one tactical voting website, of other websites.  However, it makes no sense to simply take any website’s advice. Who runs the site and why are they putting time and resources into it? Which organisations run or promote them? What is motivating them?

But let us suppose that despite doing all of the above a tactical vote or voting for your favourite party are still options for you.

Which to choose? How to decide? What are the ramifications?

    • Could you really tip the result?
    • How does your tactical option benefit the party which gets your tactical vote?
    • How does your decision not to vote with your heart affect the party you really love?

Is it really only about one vote this time?

Are you happy to deprive your favourite party of:

    • encouragement
    • support
    • finance – they may lose future income in the form of “short money”
    • their deposit (£500 per constituency is only returned by the government to candidates who win over 5% of votes cast)

The UK voting system needs reform so that people are free to make a genuine vote rather than a so called tactical one.

One tactical vote or two million tactical votes will not fix broken First Past The Post. It doesn’t matter how well informed your vote is: how crafty you are. On your own you can’t stop people being misled by people who benefit from people being misled any more than I can. (But you could share this post.)

Neither The Labour Party nor The Conservative & Unionist Party are interested in any form of voting system reform. If you vote for either of them you are supporting and entrenching the problematic First Past The Post voting system. It makes no sense at all to vote tactically to benefit either of them.

The deposit system was brought in to deter candidates who were not serious. What The Green Party stands for should not cost us so much, but while it still does, we need all the votes we can get.

In conclusion
    1. Vote Green on Thursday
    2. Donate to us to keep us standing and communicating
    3. Thank you for reading so far. Here is a window poster you can download.

Select and download your own Vote Green window poster