Peterborough’s hydrotherapy pool set to be sold to private buyer

Peterborough’s council-owned St George’s hydrotherapy pool is close to being sold to a private buyer.

Friday, 15th October 2021, 4:59 pm
The re-opening of St George's Hydrotherapy Pool four years ago. EMN-180116-172744009

The specialist pool, in Dogsthorpe Road, Dogsthorpe, is to be bought by a physiotherapy provider.

The pool, which has just celebrated its 10th anniversary as a public facility, is to be sold as Peterborough City Council looks to make savings to make up a £17.8 million shortfall in its budget.

It is understood the sale deal, which is expected to generate savings for the council of £50,000 a year for the next three years, is close to being signed.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Council leaders say the pool is a health facility and does not fall under the local authority’s statutory duties.

The decision to sell comes just four years after the council spent £45,000 on the pool fixing leaks, removing asbestos and carry out other minor refurbishment works.

Council leader Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald said: “I don’t think there will be a backlash to this decision.

“In our cross-party budget financial sustainability working group, people just wanted reassurance that access to the pool would be continued and we have given that assurance from what we know.

“The council does not provide health services and hydrotherapy is a health service. It has been a bugbear for us because we firmly believe health should pay for the pool but health has refused to do so.

“But because we recognise the pool’s importance to residents we have done our very best to keep it going.

“If this proposal wasn’t on the table we may have to be making a different decision about it - as in, it is not a statutory service that we have to provide.

“It is nothing, really, in terms of our core business and we are looking at every bit of our core business and Government will expect us to do that in order to close this funding gap.

“So it is fortunate and opportune that somebody has come forward from the private sector who has a related physiotherapy business and will continue to invest in the service.

“I understand that charges, fees, access for everybody will remain largely the same.

Cllr Fitzgerald added: “It is a positive move to safeguard the operation of the facility because the council could not do that.

“It has always been challenging for us to justify our continuing involvement in this facility because at the end of the day people use it for health purposes - and we’re not the NHS.”

St George’s hydrotherapy pool began life as a school pool for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

It opened to the wider community in 2011 after being bought by the council so it could benefit more people.

Since then, the fully accessible, warm water pool has delivered improved health and wellbeing to over 4,500 local residents with disabilities and health conditions.