Opinion: Here comes summer in the city

Summer has most definitely arrived and it is great to see so many people out and about enjoying themselves across our city, writes city council leader Wayne Fitzgerald.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 15th July 2022, 10:17 am
Peterborough Lido - somewhere to enjoy the summer
Peterborough Lido - somewhere to enjoy the summer

There really are so many great attractions and outdoor spaces and this is the perfect time of year to enjoy them.

The Lido – one of the finest surviving examples of an outdoor swimming pool – is a great place to be on a hot day, as well as our Green Flag award winning open spaces at Ferry Meadows and Central, Manor Farm and Itter Parks.

We also have lots of great visitor attractions – Nene Valley Railway and Railworld, Sacrewell Farm, Peterborough Museum and Flag Fen to name just a few.

And on Monday an exciting exhibition launches at the cathedral - T.rex: The Killer Question, a touring exhibition with animatronic dinosaurs from the Natural History Museum in London.

We will continue to do all we can to attract good quality concerts, shows, exhibitions and events to Peterborough, as we know that by doing so we will attract people to spend time in the city and position it as an even better place to live and do business.

On the subject of events, the Great Eastern Run is drawing ever closer with the half-marathon and fun-run returning on 16 October.

You can get advice from experienced racers and coaches at a series of free training sessions taking place fortnightly on Wednesday evenings at Bushfield Sports Centre. The first session took place this week, with the next one on 27 July.

You don’t have to be signed up for the race to take part. You’ll be able to meet seasoned competitors who will be acting as pacers to help entrants achieve personal best times in the race.

Representatives from Annas Hope will be on hand also for anyone who wants to find out about the 5K Fun Run event and running either distance in aid of the charity. The team from Sue Ryder will also be on hand with information on joining Team Sue Ryder.

Visit www.greateasternrun.co.uk for more information.

I have said many times in the past year that we have some difficult decisions to make as we look to achieve financial stability for the council. One of those decisions came this week when cabinet members decided to keep the St George’s Hydrotherapy Pool permanently closed.

It’s been a difficult situation, however we have needed to consider what is in the best interests of everyone in our city and not just those who want to access hydrotherapy provision at St George’s.

For the council to re-open the pool it would cost around £280,000 and to sell it would make us a profit which would be negligible and not within our best interests financially when you consider the future need for special educational need school places. Heltwate Special School, which shares the site with the pool, has confirmed its urgent need for extra spaces and a corresponding need for additional outdoor space and parking to allow the school to operate effectively with increased numbers of children.

The number of children in our city requiring a special needs school place is increasing overall but – amongst this is a growing number with severe learning difficulties - and we have a duty to those children to meet that demand.

We must also remember that hydrotherapy is not a statutory council service and such services in other parts of the country are either provided by the NHS or privately.

I read with interest the column from the Labour Group leader on the council, Shaz Nawaz, in last

week’s paper.

In it he cast aspersion as to why I and members of the Conservative Group did not want to discuss a review of the council’s decision-making structure at a meeting of Constitution and Ethics committee last week.

Let me be clear, we are not against a review of how the council takes decisions and it is me who declared many months ago that everything is on the table as we look to achieve financial stability.

However, to be able to debate this properly and agree a way forward, my group and I need time to consider it fully. .

To say that I don’t have an open-door policy is simply not true, my door has been open to every member of this council since I was elected Leader last May and it remains so.

Motorists from Peterborough will no doubt be delighted that the long-awaited Kings Dyke relief road, known as the Ralph Butcher Causeway after the former Fenland councillor that campaigned for the road for 50 years, opened this week.

The level crossing at Kings Dyke has long been an issue for motorists driving between Whittlesey and Peterborough along the A605, causing misery for many. The new bridge will allow drivers to bypass the crossing, improving journey times a great deal.

This project is one which was started by the former Conservative Mayor of Cambridgeshire, James Palmer, so credit where credit is due to him.