Friends of St Georges Hydrotherapy Pool say regional teaching pool is not a suitable alternative

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For the council to re-open the pool, the local authority said it would cost around £280,000.

The Friends of St George’s Hydrotherapy pool say that the regional teaching swimming pool is not a suitable alternative.

Peterborough City Council’s cabinet members are to consider the recommendation for the permanent closure of St George’s Hydrotherapy Pool at their meeting on Monday 11 July.

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The move, which has been described as ‘a really difficult situation’, comes following swaging cutbacks in services provided by the council, who estimate the re-opening the facility could be as much as £278,886.

St George's Community Hydrotherapy Pool, at Dogsthorpe, has been recommended for closure (image: David Lowndes)St George's Community Hydrotherapy Pool, at Dogsthorpe, has been recommended for closure (image: David Lowndes)
St George's Community Hydrotherapy Pool, at Dogsthorpe, has been recommended for closure (image: David Lowndes)

Councillor Steve Allen suggested the use of the regional teaching swimming pool as a suitable alternative at the recent Full Council meeting.

However, Karen Oldale, spokesperson for the Friends of St George’s and Service Users’ Group, visited the facility with councillor John Fox, only to find that was not the case.

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‘Teaching pool would not suit our users’

Ms Oldale said: “Following councillor Allen’s announcement to Full Council that the council proposed to trial the teaching pool at the Regional Fitness Centre as an alternative hydrotherapy venue, I requested a site visit, and that took place on 28 June.

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“We found so many reasons why the teaching pool would not suit our users that it’s hard to know where to start, but principally it’s depth is only 0.75m (2ft 5”) - 0.90m (2ft 11”).

“This is ideal as a teaching pool for mothers with babies but to provide adequate support for hydrotherapy exercise a pool would need to be 1.20m (4ft) -1.50m (4ft 11”) deep (chest height).

“St George’s, which of course was originally built as children’s hydrotherapy pool, is 0.80m (2ft 7”) - 1.20m (4ft) deep.”

The review of the costs to open the swimming are higher than the previous estimate between £140,000 and £200,000.

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‘Teaching pool too cold’

“This problem of depth is increased by the fact that hydrotherapy users would need to share the pool with school swimmers and St George’s users would need to be placed in the shallow, 0.75m (2ft 5”) end.

“The other most serious problem is that the teaching pool is too cold, operating at around 31°C. A hydrotherapy pool requires a water temperature of 33 - 35.5°C. St George’s generally operated at 35.5°C.

“It would be difficult for staff to raise the temperature because it would be too hot for the school and swimming class pupils, and owing to the current shortage of chlorine, pools are being advised to keep water temperatures down.

Heltwate Special School, which shares the site with the pool, has also 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.

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“The other problem for us of course is that the teaching pool is not easily accessible for anyone requiring hydrotherapy,” Ms Oldale added.

“The pool is accessed by ladders or a set of steps without a handrail, so this means most hydrotherapy users would need to use a hoist.

“Being able to access a pool independently is of great importance to many users. Having to use the hoist, when normally able to access independently, would be a deterrent.

“The poolside hoist does not have the seat fittings required by many of St George’s users, for example, slings. Transport from changing rooms to the poolside hoist would be difficult as an additional mobile hoist would be required which is sited elsewhere and there are no shower trolleys.

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“Also, there are no handrails around the inside of the pool – an essential requirement for hydrotherapy pools as they enable therapeutic treatment techniques which require the patient to use them for support.”

When will is the next cabinet meeting?

Councillor Steve Allen, Cabinet Member for Communication , Culture and Communities responded to Ms Oldale’s comments by saying: “We suggested among others the use of the regional teaching pool as an alternative because the council is committed to having a hydrotherapy facility in Peterborough, and we are examining all possible alternatives.

“While I am grateful to councillor Fox and Ms Oldale for visiting the regional teaching pool and investigating it as an alternative facility, I shall have to look into the matters raised further.

“While I have suggested that some hydrotherapy users may have found alternative facilities elsewhere, we are aware that there are many of the former St George’s have not yet found an alternate.”

The matter is due for discussion at the forthcoming Cabinet meeting on Monday, 11 July 2022.

By the Local Democracy Reporting Service.