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City council plans to buy the Stagecoach bus depot in Millfield, Peterborough, could help regenerate the area, according to community groups.
The relocation of Stagecoach’s bus depot will help groups such as the Millfield and New England Regeneration Group (MANERP) to find ways of attracting cultural and community activities to the area.
At a meeting held at the Peterborough International Christian Centre, members of MANERP discussed how they might cooperate with other community groups in the area to make use of the site, if and when it becomes available.
Chairman, and pastor, Tim Bedward-Jones, said: “This is an incredible opportunity for MANERP to work with other interested community groups in the Millfield and New England area to find a permanent use for the bus station site once Stagecoach vacate it.
“Working with other local people and listening to their ideas will ensure that all interests are looked at rather than just one; this site could become vital in the overall regeneration of the area.”
Peterborough City Council assigned £7.5 million for the regeneration of Millfield and New England in their 2017/18 budget, but more than two years later none of that money has so far been touched.
“The problem is that we invite city councillors to come to our meetings all the time to listen to us, but they rarely show up,” Pastor Bedward-Jones explained.
“What we need is for the councillors who have their hands on the purse-strings to take a closer look at what we’ve already achieved here in Millfield and New England without any of their money, and then perhaps they will realise what we might be able to do when we have some of that £7.5 million.
He added: “We’ve organised litter-picks to clean up the streets and have invited musicians, artists and entertainers from all over the world to come and play with local bands in the newly opened park over the bank holidays to entertain people. These things don’t just happen, they need to be organised.”
Several other ideas were put forward, including a massive street food market, similar to those being planned in Northampton and already found in Milton Keynes and at Camden Lock.
Local shops and restaurants would be able to celebrate the diversity of the large number of different cultures in the Millfield community, particularly those along Lincoln Road, by having as many kinds of street-food available as possible at stalls in the market for people to try.
Other suggestions included a celebration of the music in the area, with a venue that had a permanent stage for local and visiting musicians to use.
Speaking to the small, but passionate, audience at the meeting, Pastor Bedward-Jones said: “I’m told that some of the white-British friends of people who live in this area don’t dare come here to visit them – they seem to think that New England, Millfield and the Lincoln Road area is some kind of a ‘no go zone’. Well we have to prove them wrong, don’t we?
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“Yes we have problems here with traffic, littering and overcrowding, and yes there is some street crime and anti-social behaviour as well, but what area of any city doesn’t have the same?
“I think we have a real opportunity with this site to take the money promised to us by the city council and develop the bus station site with ideas from our community, by the community and for the community of Millfield and New England.
“If the councillors won’t come to us to listen to what we want, then we will speak with all the other community action groups in this area and collectively we will go to the council.
“We have our Annual General Meeting coming up, let’s see how many local groups we can invite, and between us get as many councillors as possible to attend so that they take notice of us.”
Pastor Bedward-Jones temporarily took over the chairmanship of MANERP after long-standing community champion Brian Gascoyne, who was awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year’s Honours list, stood down.