Peterborough City Council splashes out £123,000 on fountains but still struggles to get them to work

Councillor queries future for fountains if fix cannot be found

Tuesday, 26th July 2022, 1:33 pm

Peterborough City Council has splashed out more than £123,000 on maintenance and running costs for its city centre fountains over the last seven financial years, it has been revealed.

New figures also show that since 2015, the council has never spent the same amount each year on the decade-old fountains with expenditure ranging from £3,600 three years ago to more than £43,000 five years ago.

However, the council sets aside £18,000 a year for the fountains in Cathedral Square - and that means across the seven years, the actual expenditure does come in below the £126,000 that has been budgeted.

This graph shows Peterborough City Council's annual spending on the Cathedral Square fountains since the financial years 2015/16.

Yet, despite the ongoing maintenance, the fountains have struggled to work this summer.

And with little agreement on the cause or the fix, a senior councillor has warned that the authority cannot go on throwing public money at the water feature if it cannot be mended.

In total, the council has spent 123,047.32 on the fountains since 2015/16 and within that sum, £51,877.84 has gone on maintenance costs.

The costs are made up of regular running expenses and maintenance and repairs.

How the fountains in Cathedral Square, Peterborough, appear when they are working. Over the last seven years, Peterborough City Council has spent more than £123,000 in running costs and maintenance expenses on the fountains.

In 2015/16, the council spent £15,755.24 of which £5,082 was for maintenance, the following year spending was £8,823.45 with repairs accounting for £8,019.47.

In 2017/18 overall spending shot up to £43,143.09 with repairs at £8,970.26.

That dropped to £14,263.10, including £6,029 for repairs, the following year and in 2019/20 the total spending was just £3,600.52 with maintenance at £2,054.67.

Total spending in 2020/21 was £21,030.92 including maintenance at £17,566.24 and in 2021/22 overall expenditure was £16,431 with the maintenance share at £4,156.20.

A council spokesperson said the costs varied depending on the number of times the fountains were used each year and how many issues needed attention.

This summer, the fountains were switched on early on June 22. A glitch in the computer system controlling the on/off function meant they were soon off again.

The spokesperson said: “The maintenance contractor for the fountains believes that there is a glitch in the computerised system – which switches the fountains on and off.

“It is believed that this glitch has been affecting the fountains since they were switched on at the start of the season.

“The company which installed the fountains in 2009 will now be visiting to see if this is the issue. If it is, we hope they can fix the issue relatively simply.

“It’s a shame that the fountains are not working as normal this year.

“However, 2022 is an exciting year for our city centre.”

But Councillor Steve Allen, the council’s deputy leader and Cabinet Member for Communication, Culture and Communities, said: “It is disappointing we can’t get the fountains operating properly this year.

“I have been given different reasons for this, possible silting, or an issue with the tanks.

Cllr Allen said an annual budget of £18,000 was set aside for the fountains but it was not clear why spending in 2017/18 was so much higher than other years.

He added: “The fountains are a great feature of the city centre and I am confident we will get them working.

“However, we can’t chuck public money at them if we can fix them - but that will be another conversation.”

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