PETERBOROUGH’S long-awaited new fountains have been switched on to transform the city centre.
The huge water feature in Cathedral Square got a largely positive of shoppers reaction who from stopped crowds to
watch the new centrepiece.
City council leader Marco Cereste said the fountains would be a selling point for the city, he said: “It’s great the public are receiving it well.”
THEY have been hailed by some as the spectacular centrepiece of the revamped city centre and slammed by others as money down the drain.
But yesterday people made up their own minds about the Cathedral Square fountains as they were unveiled for the first time.
As water shot 6ft up from the ground, people stopped in their tracks to watch and children squealed with excitement, dodging in and out of the jets.
Council leader Marco Cereste said he was delighted that the fountains had grabbed people’s attention and said they would be a selling point for the city.
He said: “It’s great the public are receiving it well and they like what they see.
“The great thing is that it is a selfcontained water system, so the water usage is very little and all recycled, cleaned and goes back out. It’s good from an environmental point of view and there won’t be a huge bill for the council. I just look for- ward to the rest of the public realm being completed.”
Despite the excitement surrounding the switch-on yesterday, the fountains are still dividing opinion.
They made a positive impression on Bindu Benjamin (27), from Windsor, on her first visit to Peterborough. She said: “They look awesome. It gives the area a breath of fresh air.”
Spokeswoman for the Norwich and Peterborough Building Society, Alison Rolls, said the fountains would be a big draw in warmer weather.
But Jane Bonser from Cathedral Square boutique Reba, was more critical.
She said: “I’m not that impressed. Some people might like them, but to me, it’s just water.”
Some have questioned the cost of the project with the repaving of the square, installation of fountains and creation of the new St John’s Square, on the site of the former Corn Exchange, costing £6.45 million.
Purchasing the Corn Exchange and tenants’ leases, plus its demolition, brought the total cost to £11.6 million.
The council has met part of the cost of the project with £3million for the Corn Exchange demolition coming from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
The rest of the cash has come from East of England Development Agency, which provided £1.8million; £4million from the Government’s Growth Area Fund and £2.8million from the city council.
Workmen are currently ensuring there is enough paving and electrical work completed in St John’s Square for the Halfords Tour Series cycle race on June 15, then work will start on grass terraces.
It is due to be completed by September.
The switch-on of the fountains was the final piece of the jigsaw to turn Cathedral Square into a vibrant piazza, which began in February 2009 but was hit by delays.
Project leader for Peterborough city council Andrew Edwards said the result was well worth the wait.
He said: “It will give focal point to the city. We have superb cathedral and people tend to spend most of their time there. But now, they will be able to see the fountains operating and they will draw them out. Once they are there, they will go into the shops.”
“There will always be some people who question if its the best way to spend money, but they need to look to the long-term benefits.”
Queensgate centre director Roger Hutchings urged people to embrace opportunities the new-look square would bring.
He said: “I could give chapter and verse about the frustrations and inconvenience but that doesn’t achieve anything. The switching on of the fountains is the beginning of Cathedral Square as a focal point. It has taken a long time, but it represents a significant investment into the city centre. It’s now incumbent on the city to keep it clean, well-maintained and use it.”
After engineers have run through the programmes, the fountains will start their regular cycle from 7.30am to 10pm on Friday.