Angry residents in Fleetwood have hit out after hearing they will have to pay to use a popular new water play attraction when it re-opens for the season next month.
Wyre Council has set a charge of £2 per child for two hours at the Marine Splash, which was free to use when it was launched late summer.
Coun Lynn Bowen, Wyre’s Cabinet member for leisure at Wyre Council, says the charge will help restrict numbers to 100 people per time for safety and enjoyment, as well as helping towards running costs.
But there has been a sizeable backlash in the port, with residents taking to Facebook to vent their feelings over the issue and some even threatening a boycott.
Elaine Tinsley said: “Well I hope the people of our town boycott it, it’s disgraceful to charge £2 per child for two hours, what more do Wyre Council want to charge us for, breathing?”
Gill Devine said: “Why start charging £2? Some people are moaning they couldn’t get in last year because it was too busy. Why not give the families a stamp when they arrive? Let them in for two hours then everyone gets to use the facilities. No need to charge £2 I think it’s just pure greed really, they should never of got rid of the paddling pool that everyone used and loved.”
Anne Cox said: “What an absolute disgrace! What about the mums who have two or three children? Why should they have to pay?”
And Stuart Cameron said: “Boycott the splash pad, let’s see how they like it.” However, not all were against the move.
Peter Wilson said: “Well for I think it’s a good idea really because they’ve got to keep it running and pay for staff and it won’t be full of freeloaders so my kids will have more room to play safely. There’s always the beach for the people that don’t want to pay just £2 for there kids to play.”
And Samantha Curtis said: “I’m happy to pay £4 for my kids to play for two hours. It’s not that much.”
Fleetwood Councillor Ruth Duffy, who is also leader of the Wyre Labour group, hit out at the charge, saying: “It will hit families in the pocket, especially if they have a few children.”
She said she was considering calling in the Wyre decision.
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, including the cost of three lifeguards to oversee it.
Boasting fountains, water jets, water tunnels and a paddling area, it proved hugely popular when it was opened last summer.
Coun Bowen said: “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.”