The closure of Nottingham’s Victoria Embankment paddling pool has been called ‘short sighted’ by residents who say Nottingham City Council should find the money to renovate it despite its financial struggles.
Cllr Kevin Clarke, opposition leader of Nottingham Independents, said he is “absolutely disgusted” that the Labour-run authority has let the facility deteriorate without replacing it earlier.
People living nearby in Meadows have used social media to call on Nottingham City Council to make a U-turn on the decision and reopen the famous pool, which has served generations of families since the 1940s.
The council says it will cost £600,000 to bring the pool back to working standards and is asking families to put forward ideas for what could replace it.
The authority is currently battling to keep government-appointed commissioners at bay after it was revealed last week a plan is place for them to take control of the council’s finances.
This comes after to up £40m of ringfenced cash from the council’s Housing Revenue Account was misspent and put into other council services instead.
The misspent funds – which date back as far as 2014/15 – must be paid back.
The council also has debts of around £900m and is selling off land and buildings it no longer requires to build up its capital.
So far, over £30m has been generated but it does not appear any of this money will be spent on refurbishing the paddling pool.
Cllr David Mellen, leader of Nottingham City Council said: “Some of the things people are frustrated about at the moment – in the Meadows about the paddling pool and people come to the square and see the fountains are not working.
“Part of that is because we don’t want to spend money we have not got so we need to be careful and more moderate. We have reduced our debt by significant amounts, but we need to continue to do that.”
Cllr Clarke (Ind), who grew up in the Meadows, said: “I am absolutely disgusted that it has been able to get into the state it has. Residents are fuming about it.
“They have not invested the money into maintaining the paddling pool.
“I was born in the Meadows and remember playing in it. It was a day out. The question is – ‘what can they afford to do?
“Why are we paying the rates because we are getting nothing back? We are just paying off the debts the council has put us in.”
Residents have used social media to ask the council to make a U-turn.
One resident said: “Please keep the pool. It is well loved and well used – a great spot and our kids love it.”
Another said: “It’s a beautiful safe spot which family’s have enjoyed since before we were born. Please let us keep it. Our children need it.”
“Why change what is clearly a well loved facility like no other in the city?” one resident stressed. “I would spend hours here with my kids in the summer and it was such fun. It feels very short sighted.”
Another added: “Keep the paddling pool, it’s iconic and six generations of my family have used it and made some wonderful memories. Leave our paddling pool alone.”
Cllr Audra Wynter (Lab), portfolio holder for highways, transport, and parks, said: “We’re really sorry that the Victoria Embankment paddling pool had to close last year and sadly we’re not going to be able to reopen it.
“We know many Nottingham families have fond memories of the pool and we have done all we can to keep the facility running over the years.
“The original pool dates back more than 70 years to the 1940s, while the current plant equipment is from the 1980s.
“This has made maintaining the facility extremely challenging, both in a practical and financial sense. Parts are increasingly difficult to source and often very expensive.
“We’ve carried out numerous repairs in the past 15 years but, with such pressure on funds, these have invariably been more short-term in nature.
“We estimate it would cost around £600,000 to bring the pool back to current standards for use – this is not something which our parks budget could sustain.
“We plan to engage the public in the coming weeks to see what they would like in place of the pool. We will then look to launch a strategy to raise funds externally.”
Hundreds (365) of residents commented on The Wire’s Facebook Page on the article Public asked for ideas on what should replace Victoria Embankment paddling pool almost all in favour of keeping the pool, see just a few below:
Caroline Lowe said:
‘A better pool. It was given to the people of Nottingham & now the city are collecting parking fees so they should reinvest. Its great what they’ve done in the memorial gardens etc but lets be real thats not going to entertain the kids.’
‘I loved the paddling pool as a child. I have the best memories from the 70s. Every child deserves to have these experiences. It is imperative that it is preserved or improved. The embankment has never realised it’s full potential its stuck in the 1900s
‘How about a paddling pool , we had great fun in it when we were young, families took a picnic and we spent all day down there playing in the pool , playing in the park , playing games in the field’s , drinks and ice cream in the cafe, that was in the 5o’s and 60’s There was something built in the middle that had water coming out of it like a fountain and it trickled water down the side. I have great memories of that paddling pool bring it back for the children of Today.’
‘Paddling pool let children have their fun back many good times seeing all the children enjoying themselves.’
‘We don’t need to change it ! It was lovely to take my grandchildren their also bring back free parking for a couple of hours the place his dead now why spoil it !!!!’