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. 

Public Spaces Protection Order in Peterborough

news briefing

This is the latest public domain news on this topic which could be of interest to people involved in any or all of the following campaigns (all of which I support and would be happy to speak on to community or campaign groups, and residents associations)

  • getting rid of PSPO legislation entirely
  • getting rid of #BridgeStreetBan on Bridge Street (illustrated) so that cyclists can decide for themselves whether or not to dismount (yes it certainly does require cycle training) #Sustrans #bikeability
  • introducing 20mph speed limits, nicely, with community engagement  without bumps #20sPlenty
  • securing a useable cycle route through Peterborough city centre where the perfectly obvious place has been cluttered up with street furniture – this requires a strategic decision on whether or not cyclists should be diverted away from the shops in a city or calmed down (speed and manners) and invited into a welcoming retail space


  1. Reported 18th March
  2. Schools4ClimateStrike took place in Cathedral Square on 12th April
  3. REDACTED VIDEO Reported 16th April
  4. 12th April for about two weeks @HowellOWGreens Cllr Julie Howell tweets Please note comments addressed to her about the legislative framework.
  5. Reported 25th April
  6. Reported 1st May implications for neighbouring authority (btw Peterborough City Council is not the only one)


If you have information which you believe could be added to this, or otherwise helpful, please use the Contact tab, top right to let me know. Or you are very welcome to comment publicly below.

NOTE: If you are considering using a lawyer or want to take the council to court (with or without a lawyer), please don’t comment publicly: you might prejudice your own court case by doing that.


I certainly

won’t be

handing over my contact details to an organisation which has no address on its website, whose location is variously the world, London, and whose “editor” refers me to a script writers’ agency. Even if I agreed with the campaign. I think this organisation is just a bunch of shy Tories (Conservatives). Happy as ever to be corrected, of course: just add your comment. If these paid for and targeted facebook ads are indeed only showing up in Labour Party constituency voter feeds, as has been suggested, how can that be done without access to the electoral register, and if you have access to the electoral register, who provided it to you? and why don’t you have the courtesy to provide electors with an imprint (What’s that? See below)? The mini pictures expand if you click on them. Incidentally, Peterborough isn’t a Labour Party constituency any more, because our MP has been ejected from the Labour Party and is currently an independent.         

What is an imprint?

The imprint is the little bit of text which tells you who is sending you this election material (yes, I think it is), on behalf of whom or which organisation, and where you can find them. This enables voters to get in touch. It also enables voters to see how much money is being spent on a campaign and who is donating that money (because election expenses and donations over a certain sum have to be reported after a certain date). Here are extracts from published guidance about imprints. You can find more here .