Portsmouth to splash out £70k on floating adventure playground to combat tombstoning risk
A FLOATING adventure playground could be flown in from America in a bid to stop thrill-seeking children risking their lives leaping off historic battlements.
Portsmouth City Council hopes to install the £70,000 piece of play equipment off the Southsea coast to attract youngsters away from hurling themselves off the Portsmouth’s Hotwalls.
The attraction, which is custom-built and shipped from Tennessee, will feature a host of trampolines, diving platforms and a water slide.
Councillor Vernon-Jackson, city council leader, said: ‘One of the first things I had to do as a councillor was help a family where a kid had jumped off one of the (Old Portsmouth) towers and broken his back.
‘That was a devastating injury that affected his entire life. We’re looking at things that can attract kids away from risky activities like this.’
If the city council can get the green light from insurers, it’s hoped the water-based adventure site could arrive in Portsmouth early next year and be anchored off Southsea for summer 2020.
The proposal has already been discussed with the Queen’s Harbour Master and police, who Cllr Vernon-Jackson said were supportive of the idea.
However, the council still needs to find lifeguards to be based on it when it is out at sea.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson’s political rival Councillor Donna Jones supported the move – one the Tory leader said her party suggested ‘18 months ago’.
She said: ‘Activities like this are long overdue.The current situation of teenagers jumping off The Camber and the Hotwalls is extremely dangerous and must stop.
‘If this encourages people to enjoy the sea while still having fun, I would fully support it although I suspect we will need more than one.’
The news comes days after a stark warning about the dangers of tombstoning, an activity where people leap of walls and piers into the sea.
Sonny Wells, who in 2008 was paralysed from the waist down after breaking his neck jumping from South Parade Pier, said: ‘All I would say to these kids is don’t do it – I’m proof of the consequences.’
Cllr Vernon-Jackson said the council had enough cash to pay for the attraction.
He added it would be kept in storage when not in use.