Paddling pools and splash pad: summer 2021
Update 9 June 2021
The Leader of Elmbridge Borough Council, Cllr Chris Sadler, delivered the below statement to Cabinet.
Paddling Pools in Elmbridge – response to the Petition
"Thank you to everyone who has taken an interest in the discussions around the possibility of opening the paddling pools in the Churchfields and Oatlands recreation grounds and to the petitioners who have taken the trouble to make their support known.
"It is therefore appropriate for me to respond to the petition, to dispel some unhelpful myths and provide an update following recent Member discussions.
"Firstly, some background detail. Every February plans are made to commission the works needed to open the paddling pools at the beginning of the school summer holidays. The water systems need to be flushed out and tested to ensure the water supply is not contaminated, public health checks are carried out and inspections are undertaken of the extent of repairs. This work can be extensive due to the wear and tear and pools always require extensive maintenance.
"I would remind Members that in February all Councils were in a very different position to previous years with Covid lockdowns in place and severe restrictions around social interactions. The government road map was issued on 22 February and there was no certainty that social distancing restrictions would be removed by the summer (and there still isn’t). Paddling pools are great places for interaction which is part of their attraction but this also brings with it a heightened risk of virus transmission, hence the caution in planning for any reopening.
"On the 26 February a decision was made by the Incident Management Board, which is the Officer Group that oversees the Council’s Covid response, that to safeguard public health and maintain social distancing restrictions the reopening work would not be commissioned.
"To be very clear, and despite how some may like to present this, this was never a cost saving exercise. The money is still budgeted for and the February decision was never any more than a one-year closure. Public health concerns were the entire basis of the decision.
"However, with the huge success of the vaccination programme, the road map has remained on track and, whilst there are concerns around variants, there appears to be a lot of optimism that restrictions will be lifted later this month.
"Following a review by Members and further discussions around the health impacts and maintenance issues, I can report that we hope to be able to open the paddling pools for the school summer holidays. This remains subject to the building and maintenance work being completed, but I am optimistic.
"The cost of the work is around £30,000 which was the original estimate and includes hourly checking of the water hygiene, daily draining, public health checks and everything in between, for the six week school holiday period.
"Of course, it’s now up the Government whether they lift the Covid restrictions and the pools can be opened."
View a webcast of the Cabinet meeting.
Update 4 June 2021
We are working on trying to open the pools for the summer holidays. There will be a formal statement and update at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday 9 June.
Update 28 May 2021
Following a meeting with local Councillors, we have agreed to reassess the processes around the re-opening of the paddling pools in the borough. We cannot promise that this review will lead to the reopening of the paddling pools but we want to ensure we are doing all we can for our residents. Maybe we have got it wrong, maybe not, but we will try again and we will see what, if anything, can be done.
We understand the strength of feeling around this subject both from residents and Councillors and as such we will update you further in the next few weeks.
24 May 2021
The safety and wellbeing of our residents is always our highest priority and especially now during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As we work our way through the Government’s roadmap to the easing of restrictions, we know that hand washing, social distancing and face coverings remain as important as ever. The ‘not before’ dates provided by the Government have implications for the two paddling pools and one splashpad in the borough.
The two paddling pools at Churchfields and Oatlands recreation grounds would ordinarily be open for the 6 weeks of the school summer holidays (late July to September). However, this requires a significant lead in time for maintenance checks, cleaning and the recruitment of staff required to fill, empty the pools and carry out regular testing of the chlorine levels. With so many factors at play with the Government’s roadmap and with the wellbeing of our residents at the top of our mind, we have had to make a tough decision not to open the two paddling pools this year.
As for the splashpad in Hersham Rec, that requires less work to re-open, allowing us to react more quickly should the Government’s roadmap allow. Deep cleaning and water checks will still be required if it is deemed safe to open over the summer holidays.
We understand this is disappointing for many families and we are very sorry that this difficult decision had to be made. However, we really hope that easing of restrictions will happen in the months ahead and that we can once again meet friends and family and enjoy the many play areas, green spaces and woodlands that Elmbridge has to offer.
Paddling pools in Elmbridge can be found at:
Churchfields Recreation Ground, Churchfield Road, Weybridge KT13 8DB
Oatlands Recreation Ground, Oatlands Drive, Weybridge KT13 9LA
The splash pad is located in Hersham Recreation Ground, Pratts Lane, KT12 4RR .