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ESP’s longest serving columnist, Pep Cipriano, is back with the second installment of his look at life in the Boro. This time he’s looking forward to more pizza, goes ‘urban’ for a new street art exhibition and tries to skateboard!


Our city centre is changing and it’s for the better.

Probably the single most important reason for this is because we’re getting a Franco Manca pizza restaurant opening in Cathedral Square.

I don’t know how we do it but we’ve had an excellent recent history of attracting chain eateries that normally open up in much larger, vibrant cities.

Maybe it’s because we’ve always been seen as a growing city with potential and that potential is really starting to come to fruition.

Our university is less than a year away from opening and it’s provided the catalyst for lots of investment and opportunity.

The soon to be completed expansion of Queensgate, the opening of The Mini Vine community space, Fletton Quays taking shape, a cultural strategy, redevelopment of the station quarter on target and even boat hire on the river are just some developments that we’ve been crying out for.

And to help tie it all together is the vision, which I hope will soon become reality, to establish a Peterborough Business Improvement District (BID), which will provide businesses with a genuine voice and leadership role in shaping a more attractive, appealing and sustainable city centre.

I was involved in the very early stages of creating a BID for our city centre when it was first tabled a couple of years ago. I was excited then and I’m still stoked at the opportunity of us having one in place.

A ballot to determine the future of the BID is currently with businesses that make up its geographical area (mainly city centre) and it runs until October 21. Businesses have until this date to submit their votes to give Peterborough the best chance of becoming a BID city.

If adopted, the BID will bring in £1.8million of funding to be used to deliver outcomes our businesses want and need. The focus of this spend in the next five years from next April will be on improving and safety and communication and hosting more vibrant events that are sustainable. It’ll all be underpinned by a marketing strategy that comes with a reasonable budget.

Many of my friends and colleagues who run businesses in and around the city centre are all for it and, dare I say it, the BID should be a done deal. The timing is perfect and Peterborough deserves the credibility it’s always strived for, which I know the BID will help it achieve.

Next step, Peterborough City of Culture? You’d probably get 40/1 at the bookies but trust me it’s a bet worth placing…


When’s the last time you visited our city museum? On a school trip maybe?

That’s all about to change from December when a major exhibition of street art will be on display all the way through until May.

City Culture Peterborough is hosting the exhibition titled ‘Urban’, which will include original works by Banksy, My Dog Sighs, Blek le Rat, Pure Evil, Kaws, Damian Hirst and other prominent artists.

Other events and activities linked to the exhibition over the coming months are planned including an art trail and workshops involving local street artists.

Our local street artists are excellent. In recent years they’ve helped to turn the tide against a parochial view of street art and their work has often been the inspiration behind cultural change, breaking down barriers and fostering unity.

It’s refreshing to see the museum acknowledge modern trends in this way and recognising the creative talent in our city, especially by bringing young people from different backgrounds into the venue to see the exhibition.

‘Urban’ opens on Saturday December 11 and I hope to bring you a sneak preview of some of the items that have rarely been exhibited in the UK. To get tickets for this exciting display visit


This summer I experienced many things for the first time.

Let me see…

…I ate two fish finger sandwiches on the same day at two different Peterborough cafés (Lightbox and Willow).

…I was ghosted twice in the space of a week.

…I caught a cold on a boat on the English Channel on the longest day despite wearing everyone’s winter boating gear.

…I discovered just because someone’s clear with their intentions from the start it doesn’t mean it’s right

…I bought a speaker called Alexa and she’s been good for company as the nights draw in

But what topped it all is that I managed to stand on a skateboard without falling and smashing my collarbone into a thousand pieces.

I’d love to say I tried something new in giving skateboarding a proper go but I’d be lying. Instead, I was introduced to a local skateboarder who’s love of it has inspired him to start his own board-related business. And just for opening my eyes to the sport I thought I’d give him a shout in my column.

Deeping dude Matt Grocott has been skateboarding since he was seven and he’s still adding to his wide repertoire of skills well into adulthood.

And when he’s not skateboarding at Deeping, Stanground of Hampton skate parks, Matt’s busy with his own clothing range that he started a year ago. Here’s what he told me…

Tell me about your clothing range and what makes it different to others?

“I started Salads Clothing (named after a skate trick - salad grind - and Black Sabbath’s Rat Salad), making trousers and shorts by hand using a few different materials. I always found it difficult to find comfortable trousers to skate in, so I decided to design some exactly how I wanted. Then other skaters started to ask me to make them some and it’s now my full-time job.

“I’ve got products in two shops - Altar Skateshop in Dartford and Buenos Dias in Peterborough and my goal is to be available in as many shops as I can manage to make stock for. I have a few plans for the future in terms of functional clothing aimed not just at skateboarding but skateboarding is and always will be the inspiration and motivation for me.”

So, how big is the scene in and around Peterborough and what would you say is the average age?

“It’s a relatively small scene around Peterborough but the city has a rich skateboarding history and culture with professionals passing through and skating some of our local spots. Our local scene is also seeing growth more and more recently. The average age is mid to late 20s but it is hard to say as skateboarding interests a wide range of people from children to retired adults and of all genders.”

Do you mentor others and how do you rate my skills of standing on your board?!

“I was impressed with how well you stood on my board I’m expecting to see you round the locals soon! I don’t really mentor or teach, I’m a great believer in teaching yourself how to do things.”

Where should beginners buy their boards and what kind should they be looking at?

“As long as it rolls quick it’s good for a beginner, but I’ll always say try find your local skate shop, ours in Peterborough is Buenos Dias on Second Drove.”

Do you think interest in skateboarding has increased due to the Olympics?

“It’s absolutely made people look at it differently. Skateboarding goes through waves and also has many genres and fashions that also come and go in waves. The Olympics has definitely introduced skateboarding to a wider audience, but I think also the pandemic has played a part in getting more people out and on their boards.”

So, there you have it, if I can stand and roll a bit on a skateboard then anyone can. Check Matt out on his socials and support him if you can.



I’ve interviewed dozens of celebrities down the years but I have to say former Wet Wet Wet singer Marti Pellow has to be one of the friendliest and most down to earth. A proper top guy.

You'll be able to read my interview about his forthcoming greatest hits tour, which kicks off in Peterborough at the New Theatre on November 17, right here on this site very soon.

Best of all we spoke loads about the Amalfi Coast and his love for Italy.

He’s even taken up my offer of having proper log-fired pizza at my folks’ ( I think). Mum’s so excited she’s gone and bought a tartan tablecloth to make him feel at home!

Pep Cipriano


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