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PCC asked to change its 'mothball' decision by St George's Service Users' Lead

By Karen Oldale St George's Community Hydrotherapy Pool

Thursday, 5 May 2022


St George's Community Hydrotherapy Pool Contributor


I’ve always had enormous respect for how Peterborough City Council (PCC) has supported St George’s Community Hydrotherapy Pool and its users.

As one eminent London orthopaedic consultant said of the pool, ‘It’s so heartening to see a council taking a longer-term view to invest in the health of its community.’

St George’s has gained respect and admiration from national organizations for its hydrotherapy model and the evidence of the benefits that have been captured there.

The pool provided an inclusive opportunity for a wide range of people, who might not otherwise, to be physically active in an enjoyable way. We know all know the health and wellbeing benefits that this can bring. It was facility that Peterborough should be proud of.

However, PCC’s last-minute decision to ‘pull the plug’ on St George’s sale, refurbishment and re-opening and to ‘mothball’ it instead, remains unfathomable.

We know the much-loved hydrotherapy pool was in need refurbishment.

We know of the council’s financial difficulties.

Therefore, when over a year ago Ranjith Mahamani, an aquatic physiotherapist agreed to buy, refurbish and to re-open the pool - including to the community at affordable prices – this seemed an ideal solution. This was agreed by councillors and users alike.

I understand the sale price would more than cover the cost of the council’s work to isolate the pool from the adjoining Heltwate St George’s School. It was Mr Mahamani - not the council – who would pay for the refurbishment. St George’s Friends and Service Users, in gratitude, wanted to support this by funding a tracked ceiling hoist.

The pool could then re-open and resume delivering £1,525,000 of economic and social value to Peterborough. This at no cost to the council, which would no longer be responsible for the running costs either.

Mr Mahamani had also taken re-opening the newly refurbished pool to the community to his heart.

What was not to like?

Therefore, the council’s last-minute decision to make a U-turn and not to sell or re-open the hydrotherapy pool comes with a real, cruel cost.

It damages the reputation of the city. However, it will undoubtedly hurt the pool’s users, their families and carers the most.

85% of St George’s users have a disability or long-term health condition. 33% of these have a learning disability too. Others used the pool for rehabilitation, often after accidents or hip and knee replacements. Anyone might have the need to self-refer to St George’s at any time.

For many St George’s was a lifeline. It provided a unique opportunity to recover or manage their health and wellbeing. To keep independent. For some it provided friendship and freedom from isolation.

We know many users understood the need for the pool to remain closed during the pandemic. They have acted with great dignity throughout and were eagerly anticipating the refurbishment and re-opening of the pool. They were looking forward to resuming a more active life.

The council’s incomprehensible decision not to proceed with the sale and re-opening has caused enormous distress. It has snuffed out hope.

I urge PCC to reconsider and change its decision. It would not only seem to make good health and economic sense but it would be the most compassionate thing to do.

I hope we can all come together to achieve this. Peterborough and its residents deserve better.

Contact Information

St George's Community Hydrotherapy Pool

Find St George's Community Hydrotherapy Pool

367 Dogsthorpe Road, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, PE1 3RE


Additional Information

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