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Leader Wayne Fitzgerald's blog - 2 June

02 June 2023

With the warmer weather now upon us people are naturally starting to ask when the fountains in Cathedral Square will be switched on.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been going through the usual motions to get them ready, and as a result we’ve identified that new parts and other changes will be required.

That’s not unsurprising, given the fountains are now 13 years old. We’re not the only council in this situation - in Nottingham they have a similar problem with fountains of a similar age in their Market Square.

Each year we have a budget of almost £20,000 to cover the annual running costs including routine maintenance, water testing and the cost of water and chemicals. This year, we would need to spend an additional £15,500 to upgrade the dousing unit system and pump which maintains the correct chemical balance, and for other works needed to the pit room.

Therefore, in the current financial year it will cost in the region of £35,000 to get the fountains up and running. By all intents and purposes, we are now a financially sustainable council, which means that we are living within our means.

To get to this point, we have had to look very hard at every penny that we spend and question whether it’s a good use of taxpayers’ money. This is now the situation that we face with the Cathedral Square fountains.

We know that there are many people who like them, indeed I do, and it makes our city centre look attractive, but on the flipside, the infrastructure is getting older and, like with an older car, complications arise and will become more common and costly to keep on top of.

So, taking all of this into consideration, we are asking residents whether we should keep the fountains in good order and get them back up and running this year or should we keep them switched off?

We are running a poll on our social media channels – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram - to give us your views. You can also email me at asktheleader@peterborough.gov.uk

Please let us know what you think, your views will be taken into consideration and help inform any decisions going forwards.

Regular readers will be aware that the authority has been nominated for the title of Most Improved Council at this year’s Local Government Chronicle (LGC) Awards and we’ll find out on June 8 if we’ve won.

I recently received a letter from MP Lee Rowley, the UK’s Minister for Local Government, who was highly complementary about our ongoing work.

In his letter, he highlights our work to set a balanced budget and progress towards financial sustainability as well as the ‘major shift’ in collaboration between parties – something which I’m especially proud of.

The past year has involved much hard work from everyone at the council – members and staff at every level – so to be shortlisted for national recognition is testimony to the dedication, commitment and hard work that's been delivered by our staff, councillors, and partners.

We have come such a long way in the space of 12 months, and despite unprecedented circumstances including a very challenging economic climate, we have seen progress in every single area that we set out to improve.

We’re not out of the woods yet and still have some way to go to fully deliver the aims of our Improvement Plan and Corporate Strategy to make Peterborough the best place it can be, but we’re certainly moving in the right direction.

June is certainly one of my favourite times of year – everything looks greener, the weather is warmer and summer events get into full swing.

There’s much to look forward to over the next few weeks, including a day of celebration to recognise the dedicated service of men and women in our Armed Forces.

Saturday 24 June marks national Armed Forces Day and here in Peterborough a special event is taking place in Cathedral Square featuring live music and attractions.

The day will have a community feel to it with a formal parade to start proceedings, before bands and acts perform on-stage from 10.30am to 4pm. Some of the acts on the stage include The D.Day Darlings, Adam Hoffman, Miss Lily Lovejoy and Major Swing & Kitty.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it along, but you can enjoy the dulcet tones of Cllr Steve Allen, our Deputy Leader, who will be compere for the event.

On the subject of exciting events, Peterborough Cathedral is hosting a performance of Sister Act this week, which I’m hoping to see.

You’re probably familiar with the story - Sister Act is a stirring and joyful musical based on the hit film of the same name. Performances started yesterday (Wednesday) and run until Saturday – I'm sure guests will be rejoicing whilst dancing in the pews!

For more information and to book tickets visit the Cathedral’s website - https://www.peterborough-cathedral.org.uk/