Parents call for Portsmouth splash pool to stay open longer

SHUT The Hilsea Lido splash pool pictured when it opened last year. (121996-232)

SHUT The Hilsea Lido splash pool pictured when it opened last year. (121996-232)

John Suttie, 74, on the track that backs onto his property and leads to the proposed area of development at Downend

Picture: Malcolm Wells (170502-2271)

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PARENTS have been left disappointed that Hilsea Lido splash pool has closed earlier than last year.

Portsmouth City Council shut the under-eights pool – run by the Hilsea Lido Pool for the People (HLLP) trust – on September 2 to coincide with the start of school term-time.

But many parents of pre-school children were surprised by the decision because last year the pool was kept open for the first two weeks of September.

Dave Barker, a semi-retired fireman and assistant at the neighbouring watersports centre, said: ‘I’ve seen parents come to the pool with their children but they’ve had to turn away again. They weren’t expecting it to be closed, especially on the days when the weather’s been good.’

Mother-of-two Gillian Alger Ryan, said: ‘They should find the money to keep it open during September and then the little ones can still enjoy it.’

She added: ‘We are told that kids are stuck in front of the TV too much nowadays.

‘The splash pool was great to let the kids run around and burn some energy in a safe environment. It can get so expensive taking kids out and it’s not often we get to do free things on a nice day.’

Helen Downing-Emms, chairwoman of the HLPP trust, said the splash pool was kept open during September last year to capitalise on the good weather and the fact it was new.

‘The closure has always been on the Monday of the week the children go back to school,’ she said.

‘I suppose the difference now is that the new splash pool is designed for younger children when the old one was for school-age children.

‘Last year was the first year of the new splash pool and the summer had been appalling and so we asked Portsmouth City Council to extend the season to take advantage of the late summer sun.

‘This year we didn’t think the argument could stand up, particularly as there have been so many cost-cutting activities throughout the city. In addition, the weekend prior to closure the splash pool was very quiet and it appeared the demand had dropped.’

Councillor Alistair Thompson said: ‘The splash pool should be open from May until October every year. This is an issue which I am going to raise at the full council meeting.’

In a statement the city council said the closure date had long been advertised on its website.

A spokesman added: ‘Summer 2012 was the first season for this new splash pool and we did experiment with keeping the pool open for the first two weeks of September when the schools had gone back.

‘There was some limited use during that fortnight from pre-school age children, but the weather proved to be unpredictable as the weather is generally very changeable by this time of year.

‘We did not intend to extend the season this year for those reasons.’

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