Skip to main content

Councillors asked to switch off fountains permanently and instead create a new look Cathedral Square

12 January 2024

City councillors are being asked to consider keeping the Cathedral Square fountains switched off permanently and instead consider new ways to make the best of the square as part of a raft of proposals to balance the 2024/25 budget.

Peterborough City Council's detailed budget proposals will be published later today as part of the agenda for the Joint Scrutiny committee meeting taking place on Monday 22 January.

The council commissioned two independent surveys last summer to assess the condition and future viability of the fountains.

This followed a decision to keep the fountains off last year after it was estimated it would cost in the region of £35,000 to get them working because of the need for maintenance and repairs. A public poll on social media revealed that a majority of people wanted the fountains turned off given the investment needed and councillors subsequently decided to keep them switched off.

Both surveys found that the fountains - which are now 14-years-old - would require significant investment to update the current plant room and for other necessary works. Both also advised that a specialist company should be commissioned to carry out ongoing essential maintenance if the fountains were to remain in operation, which would come at an additional cost. This means that the ongoing cost to run the fountains would far exceed the £20,000 allocated each year, plus there would need to be significant investment to update the system and equipment to ensure the fountains worked reliably,

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Corporate Governance and Finance, Councillor John Howard, said: "The council faces some very tough decisions in the next few months to ensure we can balance our books, and continue to deliver excellent services and value for money for the people of Peterborough, businesses and those that visit our city.

"Last year, residents told us that keeping the fountains on was not a priority and therefore this proposal is to keep them off permanently and look at ways we can make better use of Cathedral Square to encourage residents and visitors into the city centre. We will work to ensure that a programme of activities and events is developed including community events, pop-up markets, and festivals.

"Cathedral Square is a key part of our city centre offering, being the central hub that connects the Guildhall, the cathedral and the rest of the city centre. We have enjoyed the fountains over many years and understand residents may be saddened by the decision, but with the significant costs of the fountains we see this as an opportunity to look at a new vision for Cathedral Square that benefits residents and visitors."

Following the Joint Scrutiny committee meeting, Cabinet will consider Scrutiny’s feedback at a meeting on Monday 12 February, prior to Full Council being asked to approve the final budget on Wednesday 21 February.

The full list of proposals will be available to view here later on today (Friday 12 January 2024).