The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Front Page - By ASHA ME­HTA

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.

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