Gavin Elsey Cabinet Member for Regional and Business Management Peterborough City Council reports back to explain why the estimated maintenance costs for the Cathedral Square fountains have doubled from £15,000 per annum to £30,000. Broadcast at 08:38 on Monday 28th June 2010 in the Peterborough Breakfast Show hosted by Paul Stainton on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.
PAUL: The City Council weren’t too sure on this next story last week. We asked why the maintenance of the new Cathedral Square fountains was going to cost thirty thousand pounds a year, even though originally only fifteen thousand pounds had been budgeted for. Well Councillor Gavin Elsey the city’s Cabinet Member for Regional and Business Management hopefully has the answer. Morning Gavin.
GAVIN: Morning Paul. How are you?
PAUL: Well you know. Not great. I’m trying my best to keep smiling but you know, it ain’t happening. (England defeat by Germany in World Cup) So are the calculations all concluded? Do we know where we are?
GAVIN: Yes. Basically as I said to you I didn’t have the full story last week, so I said I’d go away and find out the answers for you. The reason that the figure has increased is because firstly the first estimate, the first figure was an estimate only. It wasn’t a guaranteed maintenance agreement. And secondly we’ve fallen foul to our own success really, in that the fountains are needing more .. requiring more cleaning at the moment than was first budgeted for, because the amount of people who are using them and the amount of human debris, like hair and skin cells and the like which are ending up in the water, is costing more to clean.
PAUL: Right. So it’s going to .. as we sort of intimated last week .. these things tend to spiral a bit, in the breakdown they cost more money. So they’re actually going to cost us a lot more money than we thought?
GAVIN: Well they’re going to cost approximately seven eight pounds a day, which, when you look at the success that we’ve had from the fountains, and when you look at as I said to you last week the number of businesses who have suggested that they wouldn’t entertain the thought of coming to Peterborough until the public realm work was finished, I still think it represents good value for money.
PAUL: Charlie Swift was on the show earlier on this morning talking about something else, and he mentioned the fountains and said they’re going to cost a lot more money because you’ve got to repay the money we borrowed to build part of it.
GAVIN: No. The money that was used for building the fountains was money which was allocated to us through a fund which was a grant which we won specifically for that purpose.
PAUL: Do you expect that thirty thousand pounds a year budgeted to look after the fountains to go higher?
GAVIN: No I don’t, no. I think that the thirty thousand is set in stone, excuse the pun. As the weather deteriorates further on into the year we would expect less people to be running through the fountains, and therefore the amount of debris that ends up in the fountains will be significantly reduced. But as I say we have fallen foul of our own success, because they have been well received by ninety nine point nine per cent of the population, and people have been enjoying them, which is ultimately what they’re there for. They’re there so that we’ve got a usable space which we can have maximum benefit from by turning them off as and when we need to, so that we can have markets and events in the city centre, and they’ve made an attractive feature throughout the hot weather that we’ve had recently, and there’s been a real sense of community spirit back, which is great to see.
PAUL: There’s a lot of people sitting around, I walked around town last week and those benches are getting well used, and people seem to be sitting there longer, and we did a little feature last week getting people to tell us what they were reading, and people reading books. It is becoming a place for people to congregate again.
GAVIN: It is. And it’s fantastic to see. When you look at regeneration of city centres the thing that you need is for bodies actually to be there, and for people to spend time in the city centre, both from the context of actually living in the city centre so that you drive through an early-evening and a night-time economy by necessity because there are people there that need services because they’re living there, but also people who visit the city on a daily basis who as we’ve seen in the past at half-past five tumbleweed goes rolling down Bridge Street. That’s ceasing now, and people are spending more time in the city. As you say, they’re reading books, they’re eating their lunch in the open air, they’re talking to people on the benches next to each other, which is great to see.
PAUL: And how long do you expect the fountains to last?
GAVIN: (LAUGHS) I expect the fountains to last indefinitely. If you look at other cities that have gone through the same work like Sheffield and Nottingham and the like, their fountains are still working perfectly well. I’ve got no reason to believe that ours won’t be exactly the same.
PAUL: Yes. And we were going to ask you whether you could turn the water red and white, but I won’t bother now.
GAVIN: (LAUGHS) Yes. Probably not worth it now is it?
PAUL: No. Probably not. No. Eight forty one on your Peterborough Breakfast Show. Councillor Gavin Elsey coming back to us with the answer he didn’t have last week about why the fountains cost double what was provisionally budgeted for.