I see my role as someone who wants to share my ideas with others. I seek to encourage and enable these people. The very people who have the energy and shared values and vision that I have. These are people who’ll ultimately make the world a better place.Peter Dawe
I am an entrepreneur, media owner and community-minded agent for change. Now I am running as a candidate for the role of Mayor for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. It’s not something that I have embarked upon lightly. It’s something I have committed myself to and which I know that I can bring my experience to bear.
I have had the privilege of working in this great and diverse community for over 40 years, during which time the region has developed into the Eastern powerhouse that we see today. However, the work is not over (it never is!) and growth and wealth of the region isn’t evenly spread. We have successful but overpopulated towns with poor transport and housing infrastructure, and smaller communities surrounding our towns with a public transport infrastructure that seems to be going backwards!
Devolution means we will have the opportunity to address many of these issues without the restraints of certain authorities that seem to move at the speed of a snail!
I grew up in Bedfordshire, in a small village, the youngest of four children. Our family ran the newsagent, so I spent many a long hour delivering papers and collecting the money. I was one of the fortunate few to pass 11+ from the village school, working hard to achieve high grades at Kingsbury School Dunstable, especially in Maths and Science (all that counting of money!). I received a degree in Maths, Computing and Statistics at Queen Mary College London.
MY CAREER IN GOVERNMENT
My early career was spent within county councils. Working in finance and management services meant that I was involved in almost every aspect of the local authority at close quarters. I then became an early board member of the East of England Development Agency (EEDA). This experience taught me how NOT to do regional devolution leading me, sadly, to resign from the board before the end of my first term. I have successfully lobbied government on several policy issues. I independently promoted Cambridge New Town, now called Northstowe, to reduce the pressure on not only Cambridge but also the surrounding villages. Through the Pivot project, in partnership with Centrepoint (the London based homeless charity), I’ve sought and achieved significant changes to the housing benefit system, to improve the utilisation of the UK social housing stock.
PIPEX, the Internet Company I founded in 1990, brought commercial Internet to your doorstep. After working for a small entrepreneurial start-up I set up my own business, Unipalm Ltd, pioneering multi-computer networks and then PIPEX, pioneering commercial Internet. PIPEX was not only the first commercial Internet provider in Europe; it grew to be a £150m LSE listed multinational company with operations across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
A key aspect of my work was ensuring that the Internet was not “stolen” by corporate “gatekeepers” who could then extort “taxes” from users. (Attempts to remove this “net neutrality” are still made by major telecommunications companies today.) I had set up a number of associated businesses within the Unipalm/PIPEX group, but also founded a number of not-for-profit industry groups, including The London Internet Exchange – LINX – and ISPA. As a consequence of the increasing abuse of the new Internet by criminals, I set up the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). IWF is seen as the model self-regulatory body and is still the world leader in removing illegal content from the Web.
Dawe Labs is an incubator for great projects
You will see that I’ve never been short of ideas! Many have flourished as successful businesses or social enterprises. Some have failed to grow, from which I have learned valuable lessons, or they have developed into other ideas. These include:
- Dawe Post is a company that is looking to reinvent the media sector. Its WizPar App allows anyone to exploit the wide resources of the Internet to produce and edit a multimedia e-magazine, to give each WizPar user a personal view that is timely and relevant to their individual needs.
- Cambridge TV School is seeking to re-establish the concept of in-work training as a better alternative to academic degrees.
- Dawe Estates is a Norfolk farm that is seeking to innovate in the agricultural sector. It is currently undertaking the only UK trial of a microbiological fertiliser.
- Resonance Ltd continues to innovate in the impact investing arena. It is currently setting up a social innovation fund in Bristol. It is also partnering with several local authorities on providing housing for the “Difficult to House”. It is a frustration that it has found no appetite for innovation in East Anglian Local Government.
- The Wash Tidal Barrier seeks to protect large areas of East Anglian fens from the ever-increasing threat from storm surge. This a 15-year-old project that has so far failed to get any politician, local or national, to take this threat seriously, even though the proposed project can be self-financing.
Dawe Lab Partnerships
It’s impossible to achieve all of this without partnership. I seek out management who can take a vision and deliver. Once a project is independently viable we move it out of the “Dawe Lab” and leave it to the team to develop independently. Whilst these projects are started independently, their success is often due to strong working relationships with other organisations, e.g., IWF works closely with the whole communications sector, the Home Office and the police. Resonance works with Local Authorities, pension funds and homeless charities.
Over the last 20 years I have founded many social enterprises. Dawe Media provided community TV and Radio to the Cambridge area – an area I continue to support through Cambridge TV and Cambridge TV School investments.
HOMELESSNESS AND HOUSING
On the homeless issue, I have founded or supported three projects in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. My Resonance financial services business is now providing St Mungo’s homeless charity with hundreds of properties across the UK, for those who have difficulty securing housing for themselves.
In my book “The New Noah” I analysed possible threats to the world eco-political system. From this I realised that there was no one looking systematically at the global systems and how some plausible events, such as natural disasters and war, could occur. As a result I have partnered with Anglia Ruskin University, and invested in creating global models looking at how the world’s political and economic systems react to sudden stress. This work has been taken up by business and governments worldwide, who are now, for the first time, looking at how their part of the global system would fare in the event of significant disruption.
HONOURS AND AWARDS
- OBE for services to the communications industry.
- Honorary Doctorate from Anglia Ruskin University.
MY FAMILY LIFE
I’m married with four grown-up children and four grandchildren. If I can find any spare time between work and family, I try to squeeze in the odd opera performance.
I see my role as someone who wants to share my ideas with others. I seek to encourage and enable these people. The very people who have the energy and shared values and vision that I have. These are people who’ll ultimately make the world a better place.
I have founded many organisations and businesses during the last 30 years, from health to Internet, charity to corporate multinational. I never cease to be inspired by the energy and determination of those around our great county. I continually seek to encourage and enable people to make our region a better place and I want to empower people who are seeking that change.
I have gained vital insights into the workings of local government. I have given people the means to communicate, do business, purchase products and services. I have striven to maintain the internet as a force for good. I have led many community-based projects. It gives me a fresh outlook and sets me apart from the other mayoral candidates.
I would like to welcome you to join me on this journey, to ensure that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough continues to grow and thrive for the benefit of us all living within a newly devolved region.
Would you like to help me to make Cambridgeshire and Peterborough a better place for us all?