Conservative Party opinion: ‘Pool decision will safeguard future’, writes council leader Wayne Fitzgerald

Leader of the council, Wayne Fitzgerald, talks plans for a new hydrotherapy pool, local elections and the Queen’s platinum jubilee, in his latest column

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 17th April 2022, 11:30 am
Wayne Fitzgerald with Dr Neil Modha at the Thistlemoor Medical Centre - the proposed site for a new hydrotherapy pool.

I have been involved in fast-moving discussions in the last week over plans for a new state-of-the-art hydrotherapy pool in Peterborough.

This comes after the announcement that St George’s Hydrotherapy Pool is to remain closed.

It is regrettable that this was announced without the council first having the opportunity to speak with those affected, and for this I apologise to all involved, particularly service users, on behalf of the council. The facts remain the same though, that the council does not have the budget to run hydrotherapy services and this ongoing cost should be borne by the NHS. St George’s is being held together with chewing gum and sticky tape – it has reached the end of its serviceable life.

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On a more positive note, a brand-new state of the art hydrotherapy pool is set to be delivered by one of our longest standing medical centres, the Thistlemoore Medical Practice. Dr Neil Modha and his family, who run the GP practice, are preparing to submit a planning application for a new hydrotherapy pool and associated physiotherapy services for the benefit of all.

I met Dr Modha earlier this week and what he outlined to me about his vision for a new facility, including hydrotherapy, sounded exciting. If planning permission is secured, this would provide a brand-new pool for those people in the city who require access to hydrotherapy. The time-
scale, if all goes well, he told me, would be around 12 months.

Following much negative publicity and electioneering by opposition parties on this issue I also want to take a moment to explain why the previously agreed sale of St George’s fell through, because this was not a decision taken lightly by council officers.

All our assets like St George’s have been subject to very recent intense scrutiny. I was informed that had this sale gone through, we would have had to spend up to £100,000 just to make the facility sale ready. Officers determined that this would not represent best value for the council considering we were only selling it for £105,000.

We then had to consider that Heltwate School, which adjoins the pool, have asked us to review the use of the pool space, as they may need it to provide extra classrooms in it. They need to deal with a sharp increase in demand for places for children with special educational needs on site.

I accept that the pool closure will not be universally welcomed, but we are taking the difficult decisions now and this decision will safeguard the future for those children with special needs. Given all of the above, we had to consider whether spending this amount of taxpayers’ money is the wisest option particularly now we know that a new pool may be built elsewhere.

l The city council elections are just under a month away and, along with many councillors, I have been busy canvassing in recent weeks.

It’s always a pleasure to get out and meet residents and hear their views about everything Peterborough-related.

People recognise that we have made great strides for our city – with many highlighting Fletton Quays, the new university and our thriving city centre as evidence of progress.

We have helped to make Peterborough a great place to live, work and play. The proof is all around us and residents are telling us they appreciate this and can see through the empty promises of opposition groups, who always criticise the Conservatives running the council but never actually tell you what they would do instead.

We know there is still much more work to do and our administration, if re-elected on May 5, will build on what we have achieved and then go on to deliver even more success for the city.

Notices of election have been published on the council’s website, confirming which candidates will be standing where you live on May 5. Visit www.peterborough.gov.uk to find out who is standing in your ward. Please take part and make your vote count.

l We recently announced that our garden waste service will be restarting soon, with collections commencing from May 2.

I would urge anyone who is considering signing up to do so – the service offers great value for money and is highly valued by customers. The quickest way to sign up is by visiting the council’s website www.peterborough.gov.uk, but you can also call 01733 425425 and select option three between Monday and Friday 9am to 5pm – phone lines will be closed over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

If you are already a customer paying by recurring direct debit, then you don’t need to sign up again.

Just a reminder that if you need to get rid of garden waste you can visit our Household Recycling Centre in Fengate, which is now open seven days a week from 8am to 6pm.

l Finally, Her Majesty the Queen is the first British monarch to mark a platinum jubilee, and everyone is invited to celebrate.

An extended bank holiday, from June 2 to 5, will provide an opportunity for communities to come together to celebrate the historic milestone.

If you’re thinking about holding a street party, you will need to complete a Small Event Notification form from the council. This is to simply to tell us about any street closures, barriers and emergency service access. Contact our customer services team on 01733 747474 and ask for the Small Event Notification form.