New Lime Academy hydrotherapy pool plans tabled as St George’s users pitch second petition to Full Council

Lime Academy is being looked into as an alternative state-of-the-art hydrotherapy facility

By Robert Alexander, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Thursday, 28th July 2022, 12:52 pm

St George’s Hydrotherapy pool will remain closed for economic reasons, despite an impassioned petition explaining it’s need for 4,500 users in Peterborough.

On 27 May a petition was received by the council from Sue Jolly, which included 769 signatures and asked for the petition to be debated at a Full Council meeting on 27 July.

The petition titled ‘Save St George’s Hydrotherapy Pool’, called on the council to continue with the sale of St George’s Community Hydrotherapy Pool.

Campaigner Karen Oldale, from the Friends of St George’s, said she has experienced some shocking stories of how the pool closure has had a knock on effect with users.

‘Genuine future’ needed for pool users

Speaking at the meeting, campaigner Karen Oldale, from the Friends of St George’s, said: “My words cannot do justice to the enormity of the decision you are about to make on the health and wellbeing of local people’s lives – your constituents. Every councillor here will have St Georges’ service users living in their ward.

“So why does saving St George’s matter? Or, if we cannot save St George’s, ensure there really is a genuine future for community hydrotherapy in Peterborough.

“The cost to the council of refurbishing and reopening the pool keeps being mentioned – but this was never asked for – St Georges’ users only want the council to honour it’s agreement, as passed by Full Council, to sell the pool to an aquatic physiotherapist.

“That sale would’ve resulted in a profit to the council of between £65-75,000 – all further financial responsibilities, including refurbishing and running the pool for the communities use, would lay with the buyer, not the council.”

At the end of her impassioned speech, Ms Oldale added since closing the pool she has heard of a person who has become bed-bound and developed diabetes.

She added: “The person who has lost the ability to walk and get dressed, the person on morphine, the one who no longer goes out – we have some shocking statistics the effect this closure has had on the people of Peterborough”. Her speech was followed by a round of applause.

Read More

Read More
Councillor tells Friends of St George’s Hydrotherapy pool no debate allowed for ...

What’s next for the future of hydrotherapy?

Responding, Councillor Steve Allen, Cabinet Member for Communication, Culture and Communities said: “Your presentation is eloquent and heartfelt, and we must say that the value of hydrotherapy in our city is not denied.

“The reasons for the closure have been well exercised in this chamber, and we will be noting the petition, but I’m happy to say where we are addressing the issue of hydrotherapy in Peterborough.

“I have worked with officers to look at alternative locations – and the Lime Academy at Orton offer a fantastic facility with a pool that we believe can meet the needs of previous users of St George’s.

“We’ve engaged with the school, and to obtain their support we have facilitated an inspection with the St George’s user group to confirm its suitability and I believe that the Lime Academy offers a modern, state-of-the-art hydrotherapy facility providing a higher standard than that previously available at St Georges and the use of which will ensure the continuity of hydrotherapy in our city – something I have striven for throughout this challenge.”

Councillor Christian Hogg added: “This episode is an embarrassment to Peterborough City Council and tarnishes our reputation and it lets down the residents that we are here to protect and who need our support.

“While the new proposal of the Lime Academy sounds very good, we only heard about it yesterday and I would remind members it wasn’t that long ago the administration were waxing lyrical about the regional pool as an alternative – but when we scratched away at the thin veneer of that proposal it turned out to be totally inappropriate.”

Councillor John Fox said: “We are simply putting pennies before principles here. St George’s has saved the council a lot of money over the years, and I am saddened to the core that the users are losing this facility when I don’t see the need to close it – as a council we have failed in our duty in this matter.”

‘Guided by officers advice’

Councillor Chris Harper added: “As councillors sometimes we have to make difficult decisions, and I accept that.

“But it is a sorry situation when money has been shown to rule our hearts and I think it is time we reconsidered why we were elected – it was to represent all people, and about that we need to have a little think.”

Leader of the Council, councillor Wayne Fitzgerald said: “While this authority is ‘member led’ and we make the decisions, we have to be reminded that we are guided by officers’ advice and recommendations – and there are no officers screaming at us to overturn the decision to close St Georges – we are guided by their advice and have acted upon it.”

Karen Oldale said the user group would welcome any involvement in the Lime Academy decision.

She added: “I also think we need a long-term, professionally managed solution so looking at land to build a new hydrotherapy pool would also be welcomed by us.”

Summing up, councillor Allen said: “A lot of pertinent points have been made this evening and I keep coming back to the fact that the value of hydrotherapy is not denied.

“We want hydrotherapy in Peterborough, but we do not want the St George’s facility to remain open because it’s unaffordable.”

Members noted the petition and agreed by majority to follow the proposal from councillor Allen to investigate the Lime Academy as an alternative hydrotherapy facility.