The future of Bretton Water Park is looking more secure after the deputy leader of Peterborough City Council said he expects the cut to the family attraction to be reversed.
Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald, who has spoken forcefully against the potential closure of the park, made his comments as councillors scrutinised the council’s budget.
With a £24 million deficit to tackle, the Conservative-run authority is proposing to stop funding the water park to save £18,000 a year.
Instead, it hopes that Bretton Parish Council will fund the facility, while other options such as charging for admission, sponsorship and allowing for catering on site have been suggested as possible alternative options.
During Tuesday night’s debate, Cllr Fitzgerald, who previously represented Bretton, said: “If I’m being honest I can’t see this in the final budget, but I’m one member of the cabinet.
“I’m hoping we can find a way of finding the money, but in the long-term it’s not unreasonable to propose a charge.
“I think we will have a positive outcome.”
The deputy leader added that the parish council spends almost 60 per cent of the precept it brings in on administration.
He also categorically denied a suggestion from Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Nick Sandford that the cut to the park’s funding was a “gigantic red herring” put into divert attention from “nasty tricks” in the budget. The cut would then be reversed later on.
Labour Bretton councillor Angus Ellis said: “I was surprised and upset to see the saving of £18,000 proposed. It will hit families in Peterborough. £18,000 a year is easily findable.
“Bretton Parish Council has not got a money tree. It’s not there to pick up what Peterborough City Council does not want to fund.
“The facilities are for all of Peterborough, so why should the taxpayers of Bretton fund it?”
Labour group leader Cllr Ed Murphy called the proposed cut “ludicrous” and said it was diverting attention from the council’s campaign to secure extra government funding.
Cabinet member for resources Cllr David Seaton said: “The parish clerk on the day this was discussed said he would be very happy to take it on.
“Bretton Parish Council have more money in the bank than they spend annually. If we had more money in the bank then we spend annually we would be well off.
“You have to be careful not to cry wolf.”
At the start of the meeting, Cllr Seaton highlighted that the council is still expected to have a deficit of £19 million in three years’ time.
He added: “You might think putting small items back in (the budget) is relatively easy to, but in three years’ time we may find ourselves taking them back out again.”
The cabinet next meets in public to discuss the budget on Monday (February 26). The final budget, once finalised, will be voted on by councillors on Wednesday, March 7.