Councillors’ anger at decision to close hydrotherapy pool

Councillors have said they are angry at a decision to mothball the St George’s Hydrotherapy Pool in Peterborough.

By Stephen Briggs
Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 3:10 pm
The hydrotherapy pool is set to be mothballed. EMN-171017-153640009
The hydrotherapy pool is set to be mothballed. EMN-171017-153640009

Councillors were told of the decision yesterday evening in an email. The pool was in the process of being sold to a private buyer, with plans to keep it open for community use.

Some councillors were told less than a month ago that the sale was progressing as planned.

No explanation has been offered by the city council for the decision.

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Thousands of people use the pool in the city

Today opposition councillors have spoken of their anger after the decision was made - and called for the pool to be opened.

Cllr Shaz Nawaz, the leader of the Labour party on the council, said residents were ‘appalled’ by the situation.

He said; “Residents and users who have contacted me are appalled at what’s going on. Many rely on this vital service.

“It’s important to remember that this centre is used by vulnerable people, patients, those who’ve had surgery, and many who are suffering due to injuries among other users.

“The centre is a lifeline for many. It needs permanent solution. I believe that solution is not to sell it off to a private buyer. The council should run it as a co-operative model with community ownership. That is the best way to keep the centre going.

“It’s clear the Conservatives aren’t committed to the centre. If they were, they’d have done the right thing by giving it to the community through a co-operative set-up.”

Cllr John Fox, leader of the Werrington First group on the council called for the pool to be opened as soon as possible - and for the reason for the sales’ collapse to be explained.

He said; “To say I am angry would be an understatement. Less than three weeks ago I emailed to find out what the situation with the sale was. I was told, on March 14, that it was going well.

“I am shocked to see this has happened.

“I know how essential this is.

“What has happened? What has gone wrong? We have not been told. We need to be told.

“I know finances are difficult, but we should be working to get the pool open as soon as possible. The users have to be our number one priority. Lets get them back in that pool. Health and well being is paramount.”

Cllr Julie Howell, leader of the Green Party on the council, said the decision would cause a great deal of stress to may people in the city.

She said: “When I heard the hydrotherapy pool was to be sold I was very worried that something might happen to delay the sale resulting in a loss of service for users.

“I really cannot overstate the stress and worry the sale’s collapse will cause to our city’s people, who rely on the pool for good health.

“The reason the council put the pool up for sale was to save money and this formed part of the recent budget. Now the pool is not being sold that budget ‘saving’ cannot be realised.

“Presumably, the pool will continue to have running costs while is it closed. So rather than saving the city money, the failure of the sale will surely push the council’s finances into further jeopardy until another buyer can be found.

“It is my understanding that the council cannot afford to pay for the works to bring the facility up to the required standard for it to be sold. Why has this fact come to light only now, a month after the budget was passed?”

Cllr Nick Sandford, the leader of the Liberal Democrats on the council said: “This is really concerning. We were given assurance the pool wold be able to continue as it would be taken over by a private operator, with the community use still open.

“People who use the pool have certain conditions and find it helpful to exercise in water. It is a very important thing in our city.

“I don’t know what has happened. There are a lot of councillors asking questions.

“We know the council have financial problems. It is quite logical to look at selling things, as the council have done with The Key Theatre - it is a responsible thing to do.

“But I had hoped we would be given some explanation about what has happened.

“The council seem very happy to put out a press release when something positive has happened, but are very quiet when things like this happen.”

Julie Fernandez, the actress who has campaigned for better facilities for disabled people in Peterborough as part of the Peterborough Unlimited campaign with the Peterborough Telegraph, has also expressed her anger at the decision.

She said: “‘I cant say I’m surprised that Peterborough City Council (PCC) is passing the buck on the funding for the much loved and used hydro pool here in Peterborough. 
“Once again we hear PCC talking about lack of funds and now we hear them say that it’s not their statutory responsibility, its health’s.

“Over the last handful of years I have been working for and with disability organisations and charities here in Peterborough and many of them have had their funding cut from PCC. If these charities didn’t exist then the responsibility on PCC would be immense so cutting funding is extremely short sighted of them. I realise that funding is tight but isn’t it interesting what PCC’s prioritise seem to be!!!!”

At the time of publication there has been no comment from Peterborough City Council

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