Popular paddling pool will be closed over the summer

Claire Crowther, left, with supporters of a Facebook campaign and petition she has launched for a new splash park to replace a paddling pool that has been ruled no longer fit for purpose

Claire Crowther, left, with supporters of a Facebook campaign and petition she has launched for a new splash park to replace a paddling pool that has been ruled no longer fit for purpose Buy this photo

First published in News

A POPULAR children’s paddling pool in Witney could get a £130,000 facelift – but will be closed this summer.

The pool, in The Leys, will not open this year because broken slabs have rendered it “not fit for purpose”.

But rather than rebuilding the facility, Witney Town Council plans to spend £70,000 of its own money creating a ‘splash park’ on the site, which it hopes will open next year.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Witney parents have backed a Facebook campaign and petition to build the splash park.

Mum-of-one Claire Crowther, who organised it, said: “The paddling pool is no longer fit for purpose. It is dangerous and unhygienic, and when you have got more than a couple of adults in there it gets hard to see what is going on. A splash park would be safer, more hygienic, and children with disabilities and different ages could enjoy it.

“I hope the town council will represent families and make the changes.”

She said the splash park should replicate the one at Abbey Meadows in Abingdon, which features water fountains activated by pressure pads.

So far, 267 people have ‘liked’ the Facebook group and 166 people have signed a petition at change.org Council officers carried out a risk assessment on the paddling pool last year, which suggested improvements were needed before it could open.

The 45-year-old site has broken slabs around its edge and had to be closed five times last year after broken bottles were found in the water. Officers also said there was a problem with parents letting youngsters defecate around the pool.

Mayor Harry Eaglestone said: “It is not fit for purpose and it is a health hazard. We have got no option but to close it this summer. It would be better trying to improve the whole situation rather than just reinstating the paddling pool. It would make a huge difference to have a lovely area down there.”

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The pool closure follows the shutting of the Corn Exchange in 2011 after a building report showed it had major problems. The council hopes to reopen the public hall, in Market Square, by 2015. Mr Eaglestone said: “We as a new council are trying to get things done, but unfortunately the money is restricting us in a lot of ways.”

The council agreed to raise its precept by 20 per cent earlier this month, partly to create a £150,000 pot to fund capital projects such as the pool. Councillors are also considering installing bollards in The Leys to stop cars getting on the site.

The plans will be discussed at the council’s next leisure and recreation committee meeting on March 4.

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