Work in full flow to repair Peterborough city centre fountains that will only gush in spurts

No record kept of days and times that fountains are in operation

Thursday, 28th July 2022, 5:00 am

Work is still underway to repair Peterborough city centre’s troubled fountains that should be in operation for seven months a year.

The search for a solution to the decade-old fountains in Cathedral Square that seem only capable of working in spurts began five weeks ago.

But Peterborough City Council, which installed the fountains as a focal point of a £12 million regeneration of the city centre 10 years ago, say no one has yet found a fix to ensure the water feature keeps on gushing after it is switched on.

This photograph taken by Carol Macfarlane, of Farcet, on July 20 this year is thought to be the last time the fountains in Cathedral Square, Peterborough, were seen working.

It is thought the problem lies with the computer operated sensor that controls when the fountains are switched on and off.

The fault was discovered when an attempt was made to switch on the fountains for the summer season on June 22,

A council spokesperson said: “The fountains were switched on for the season on June 22

“A fault in the computerised programming system for the fountains, which switches them on and off amongst other things, has meant that they have been intermittent from the date they were switched on.”

This graph shows how spending by Peterborough City Council on the city centre fountains has varied over the years.

It is thought the last time shoppers actually saw the fountains in full flow was last week.

Carol Macfarlane, of Farcet, sent in this photograph of the fountains seemingly working well on July 20.

The council spokesperson said: “Yes, it is possible the fountains were working on July 20.

"They have been on several times for a few hours and then stop working.

"That's why we think a computerised glitch is the cause - the problem is not getting them working, but keeping them working.”

However, the fountains should be in operation as an attraction for shoppers and visitors for seven months a year – during April to September - and the council budgets £18,000 a year in order to maintain and repair them.

However, it is not possible to say exactly which days and for how long the fountains have been in operation.

The spokesperson said: “We don't keep a day-to-day tally.

“The fountains are usually activated from April until October.

“They would function each day, dependant on the weather conditions - apart from times that events or activities take place on Cathedral Square, of which there are many in any given year.

She added: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, following advice from public health and low footfall in the city centre, the fountains were turned off.”

Figures supplied by the council show that it has spent £123,047.32 plus since 2015/16 on the fountains on items such as water testing and chemicals to repairs and maintenance.

However, the sums spent vary each year from £43,000 five years ago to just £3,600 three years ago.

Councillor Steve Allen, the council’s deputy leader and Cabinet Member for Communication, Culture and Communities, has previously said: “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’t fix them - but that will be another conversation.”

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Peterborough City Council splashes out £123,000 on fountains but still struggles...