"Much ado about nothing" declares Lib Dem leader Brian Hoare writing to the Chronicle and Echo after criticism therein about the Council's flagship Market Square fountain project being delayed once more.
So "not" a story was this latest minor hiccup to their watery plans, that it was not only the leader who felt it neccasary to fill the letters pages up to comfort us, he was followed by Cllr (Slugger) Church who waded in even deeper only a day or two later to lecture us all on the environmental credentials of the Council's fountain using recycled water in it's operation, after suggestions were made that it may be wasteful if it used fresh water.
Meanwhile most punters according to the Chron and Echo seemed to be both underwhelmed and unimpressed with the said fountain. Cllr David Palethorpe (Con) in particular entertained me today with a comment from one of his more well spoken Tory friends who expressed a view of the fountain in what he said was a rather posh accent and declared "I think I could lay on my back and p*ss higher than that" (more about that later!)
But for those not up to speed with the project, the bill so far for the whole scheme is in excess of £250,000 well over the original budget and despite the fountain costing only an estimated £98,000. The costs seem to have escalated after first the council finding out that they were digging in the wrong place for water! and then finding that the water wasn't draining away as it should be! and instead of refilling its feeder tank it was heading off to flood the nearby newsagents cellar! Further work has therefore been carried out this week to remove the recently laid granite sets around the fountain and replace them with additional gullies to improve the drainage.
So nothing more could go wrong could it?
And the new Mayor can sharpen her scissors ready for the ribbon cutting?
Well think again, and prepare yourself for an EXCLUSIVE! You see if anyone at the Council had bothered to do their homework, then they would have found out that a very similar project in 2008 with a "very similar" fountain from a company called "Invent Water" had run into very similar problems and delays down on the East Coast! More's the point some of the additional problems which troubled the Cllrs of Clacton have yet to hit the Lib Dem group on Northampton Borough Council because they didn't fully occur until after the Clacton fountain had officialy beenopened!
You see Cllr Church's premature pride in the fountains use of "recycled water" may just come back to haunt him!
And his ghost will be called "Cryptosporidiosis"
In Clacton you see, once the fountain finally spurted forth, the local kids revelled in the opportunity to run through the water jets to cool themselves down on a hot summers day, as I am sure some of us hoped would be the case on the Market Square in Northampton. But in Clacton (unlike Cllr Church) they forgot that the water like ours was recycled!! Which meant that the contents of the said water jets included dilutions of pigeon droppings, dog fouling, urinating drunkards and vomiting party goers, all of which were then being ingested by the little darlings as the ran through the spray! Health experts gave warning to the Council as to the dangers and the localy elected of the Borough scratched their heads. Filtration was not possible without huge additional cost, an underground tank room, and constant montoring and maintenence cost and would have led to the whole fountain being dug up again and replaced with a hugely expensive cleansing headache for the Council.
The problem it seems is particularly acute in fountains which spurt water upwards in areas where children who are most at risk from such water borne pathogens (those under16) who may ingest or swallow the water due to their height and also the height of the water jets. The Northampton fountain we are told spurts from one foot to five foot! This danger is all well documented in guidance issued since major outbreak in the UK in 2003 and 2006 with many children hospitilised. http://www.whtlimited.com/doc/lib/158/interactive-play-water-features.pdf The only option therefore left for Clacton Councillors was to admit defeat after much cost and more than a few red faces and turn off and fence off the fountain to the public at even further
expense to the Council tax payer.
Then after further complaints from residents about the fencing, they had to spend more money taking the fencing away and on installing expensive motion sensitive cameras and automatic switches which can detect any little darlings getting too close to the action and turn the water on and off as the public approach!
£3.2m was the final bill for the council tax payers of Clacton (Tendring District Council)
But I am sure our council has all these eventualities covered?
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