Fleetwood's splash pad visitors drop due to fee
Controversial charges brought in for Fleetwood's splash pad this year have led fewer families using the facility.
Some families in Fleetwood have vowed not to use the seafront facility since the charges - £2 per child for two hours - were brought in by Wyre Council this summer.
When it was opened last year as a revamped replacement to the old paddling pool, it was free to use.
One Fleetwood grandfather claimed the Marine Splash, which is run by YMCA on behalf of Wyre Council, is attended more by visitors than by families from the town because many locals cannot afford to use it.
And Wyre Labour leader, Coun Ruth Duffy, says the charges impact on poor families in the town.
However, Wyre Council says it always expected the figures to be lower than last year, when it was free to use the seafront water amenity.
And the council says that when the weather is fine, the splash pad is very well used, but that figures have sometimes been lower when the weather is poor.
Since the amenity opened this year, the council says 1,400 people have used it, which is understood to be significantly lower than last year.
Fleetwood man Gesz Clark, 55 says he will not take his young grand-daughter to the facility.
He said: “I will not go there on principle because I don’t think it is right. It was free before and there should not be a charge. From what I understand it is more out of town people using it than locals because they can’t or won’t pay.”
Another Fleetwood resident, a mum of three who did not wish to be named, said: “I would use it if it was free but if I went there just two days a week with my girls, it would cost a minimum of £12.
“I am staying away.”
Fleetwood council member, Coun Duffy, who opposed the charges and tried to get them stopped, said: “I have asked questions at Wyre about the figures and although the offical figures cannot be assessed until after the summer, I understand they are down on last year.
“I can understand why the council wanted to police the splash pad to make it safer, bringing in the charges is not the answer. Low income families just cannot afford it.”
A Wyre Council spokesman said: “The report of the leisure and culture portfolio holder in April recognised that as the splash pad was free in 2015, the number of visits in 2016, as a facility that makes a small charge, would be less.
“In addition, poor weather over the last few weeks had seen a reduction in customer numbers compared to last year which is understandable. Prior to the poor weather the slash pad had proved popular.
“The council feels the charge is not excessive and offers very good value for money.
“The number of visitors currently stands at 1,400, however with some good weather now predicted we anticipate the facility will be well used.”
Fleetwood children will be able to swim for free at the town’s YMCA leisure pool until the end of the summer holidays, however.
Fleetwood County councillors Ron Shewan and Lorraine Beavers allocated funds via the County Councillors’ Local Member Grant Scheme, and decided to donate £500 each to provide the free swimming.
Proof of residency at an FY7 postcode, such as utility bills, is required.
Any children under the age of eight must be accompanied by a paying parent or guardian aged 18 or over.
For more details visit the website ymcayactive.org or call YMCA Fleetwood on (01253) 771505.