Disappointed parents including the mother of a disabled boy have said they will be sad if Bretton Water Park does not reopen in the summer.
Under its latest 2018/19 budget proposals cash-strapped Peterborough City Council has declared it will no longer run the popular family attraction in Flaxland in order to save £18,000 a year.
The authority said the site which is open three months a year in the summer will close unless Bretton Parish Council takes over the running of it. However, parish clerk Bernard Champness told the Peterborough Telegraph that its budget has already been set for the next financial year.
The news is worrying for Samantha Murray of Dogsthorpe whose nine-year-old son Jake Patterson has a rare genetic condition called Helsmoortel-Van Der Aa Syndrome which leaves him wheelchair-bound.
Samantha (44) said: “In hot weather we go every day. He enjoys it and gets very loud. He can’t talk but screams out and is very excited.”
Jake has no danger awareness so Samantha cannot allow him to go in a swimming pool, but the water park is a different matter.
She added: “This is the only place in Peterborough I can take him. In the water park he is totally free to do what he wants and he does not need special equipment. He is out of his wheelchair and then off he goes. He loves water.
“I can’t take him to the local park because there’s nothing that’s safe for him to go on.”
Marisa Lagerman from Woodston said her two-year-old daughter Everleigh loves the water park. She added: “We spent a lot of time there last summer and have been looking forward to going back in the warmer weather.
“For her age finding things to do is hard and can be expensive, but this place solves both of those issues. I honestly can’t tell you how much fun we have had there and we will be very sad to see it close.”
Anastasia Lorimer from Fletton takes son Hugo (3) to the water park in the summer. She said: “We have visited during the week in term time with friends and found it quiet, allowing the little ones to run around freely whilst still within our sight at all times.
“We will all be extremely sad if the water park closes.”
Cherie Pearce said: “I’m a childminder. We love using the water park especially during the day when the older kids are at school. It would be such a shame to see it close.”
The city council said it is planning to speak to the parish council about running the water park and whether charging for admission is an option to keep it going.
Speaking to the PT on Tuesday Mr Champness said he had not received any correspondence from the city council but warned against charging for admission.
He said: “The fence is a metre high so who is going to be there watching to make sure you pay? I do not see it as a viable proposition really.”
Mr Champness added that in 2017, 3,439 people ‘checked in’ on Facebook that they were at the water park.
An online petition on the website Avaaz to save the water park had been signed by 256 people by yesterday morning. The petition can be viewed at: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/People_with_children_Save_Bretton_Water_Park/.
Opposition politicians have criticised Peterborough City Council’s decision to stop funding Bretton Water Park.
The leader of the council’s Liberal Democrat group, Cllr Nick Sandford, said: “No prizes for guessing which groups in society will suffer most.”
Labour Bretton councillor Stuart Martin said: “The decision to stop funding Bretton Water Park is a disgrace. Eighteen thousand pounds is petty cash to the council and they provide little in the way of facilities for the children of Bretton.
“They closed our secondary school, closed the paddling pool and are now threatening to close the water park built to replace it.” Cllr Angus Ellis said all three Bretton members - himself, Cllr Martin and Cllr Ann Sylvester - will fight the plans. He added: “We urge residents to sign the online petition and help us oppose this closure proposal.”
Labour group leader Cllr Ed Murphy said his party’s alternative budget later this month will include proposals to keep the water park open.
Reserves might keep site open
The parish council has already set its budget for 2018/19, but using its reserves might be an option to keep the water park running, according to the council’s clerk Bernard Champness.
However, he warned that Bretton residents would have to pay more in future years to replenish those reserves.
Increasing the council tax precept for Bretton residents could be another option.