Pool plans delayed after last-minute council concerns

HAPPY SPLASHY The opening of the Southsea Splash Pool in August last year. A similar one could now be built at Hilsea
HAPPY SPLASHY The opening of the Southsea Splash Pool in August last year. A similar one could now be built at Hilsea
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PLANS to open a new children’s splash pool at Hilsea have been put on hold after last-minute calls for alternative schemes.

But Portsmouth City Council’s leader for sports and leisure, Cllr Lee Hunt, says he fears a delay could see £448,000 of funding for the project lost.

The council has set aside the cash to replace the current splash pool, which was damaged in cold weather.

Cllr Hunt was set to approve the new plans, which would see it replaced with a shallow water pool with water jets and play features similar to the one at Canoe Lake, Southsea.

But instead, last-minute suggestions from Tory councillors saw him defer the decision.

He said: ‘I was going to approve the new plans, which I think will give an excellent facility in the north of the city, but councillors have called for me to consider alternatives.

‘They are from wards which would be affected by the pool, so I want to give their ideas due attention, but I think they have come in very late.

‘We have set this money aside, but it’s quite a lot and I fear the longer it’s left, the more likely it could be taken away and used for something else.’

The pool was damaged in the bad weather of winter 2009-10, when ice cracked bricks and sealant.

Although it could be patched up, that would cost £96,000, while a two-to three-year repair would be £180,000, both requiring expensive follow-up work.

Instead, there are plans to replace the pool with one which will last 20-30 years.

And as it will contain only shallow water, it won’t have to employ lifeguards.

But Hilsea Tory councillor Donna Jones, who was one of the councillors who spoke against the plan, said: ‘I do support the new pool. I just think youngsters could be missing out if the pool’s too shallow. We need to look into whether they could have something slightly deeper so they can experience being in water and maybe lose apprehension some young children have about it. We are also unsure whether it’s right to have something exactly the same as what’s already in Southsea.’

The pool plans will be reconsidered on March 24.