Wyre Council has confirmed it will be charging people to use Fleetwood’s seafront splash pad attraction, after weeks of speculation.
The authority has set a charge of £2 per child for two hours at the Marine Splash, which is due to open for the new season on Bank Holiday Monday, May 2.
We feel that we have been purposely mislead into believing it would be free
Coun Lynn Bowen, Wyre’s Cabinet member for leisure at Wyre Council, says the charge will restrict numbers to 100 people per time for safety and enjoyment, as well as helping towards running costs.
But the news has been greeted with anger among Fleetwood councillors and residents in the town.
Fleetwood Coun Ruth Duffy, who is also leader of the Wyre Labour group, said: “I am appalled by this and I would ask how long the council has been planning this. It will hit families in the pocket, especially if they have a few children.
The Marine Splash facility is one of five schemes included in Wyre Council’s £1.5m Five For Fleetwood scheme and it will cost the council £28,500 to run between May and September.
Boasting fountains, water jets, water tunnels and a paddling area, it proved hugely popular when it was opened last summer.
Coun Bowen said: “Last year we ran the splash pad free of charge for a season to determine demand and look at the best ways to operate it. Although it was hugely popular, feedback from visitors highlighted that the number of children using the facility needs to be restricted to ensure the splash pad is both safe and pleasurable.
“Charging allows us to provide a more enjoyable experience for visitors and generate a small contribution towards the running costs. This isn’t aimed at making profits but ensuring we have a top quality facility that it is sustainable in the future. £2 for two hours’ play is excellent value.”
Norah Stuchfield, chairman of Fleetwood Community Trust, said: “We feel that we have been purposely mislead into believing this facility would be free of charge.
“We ask Coun Bowen to think about the needs of our local community and recognise that Fleetwood is a deprived community with high unemployment and deprivation levels. We feel that by charging for splash pad you will be causing undue hardship and distress to our already-struggling families.”