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Pleas to protect Bristol paddling pool from cuts

There are planned cuts of £450,000 to Bristol’s annual parks budget. Photo: St Andrews Paddling Pool Campaign

St Andrews paddling pool in north Bristol has been transformed into a “wishing pool” in the hope of keeping it open in the face of council funding cuts. Children, parents and grandparents have been attaching their happy memories of Bristol’s only public paddling pool to its railings - as well as their wishes for its future.

The pool, which is currently fenced off to prevent damage to its recently resurfaced interior, is due to reopen for summer next weekend (April 29).

However, planned cuts of £450,000 to Bristol’s annual parks budget, have raised concerns that its opening hours will be restricted – and it may not open at all on busy weekends.

The notes are an effort to show how valuable it is to local families. Credit: St Andrews Paddling Pool Campaign

The council has said that it will open as normal next weekend, but that the situation will be reviewed at the end of May.

The proposed cuts have left many parents worried that St Andrews paddling pool, which is used by families from across Bristol, may eventually close or see its opening restricted – particularly on busy, sunny weekends when it needs regular emptying and refilling for hygiene reasons.

Local mums, Linda Geddes and Simone Van Dop, came up with the wishing pool idea as a way of raising awareness about the pool’s plight, and demonstrating just how valuable it is to families across Bristol.

By tying happy memories and wishes to the railings we’re turning what’s currently an empty, fenced-off pool into a cared-for, loved thing. We’re hoping to draw attention to the potential threat to the pool in a very gentle way. It’s the only public paddling pool in Bristol, and if it were to go, it would be a very sad thing.

– Simone Van Dop, local school teacher
The goal is for Bristol’s Parks Service to operate on a ‘cost neutral’ basis by 2020. Credit: St Andrews Paddling Pool Campaign

One message tied to the pool railings reads: “We come here because we cannot afford swimming lessons at Horfield pool. It builds their confidence in the water. Please don’t take it away.”

Another reads: “I could cry at the thought of the pool closing. My grandchildren love it. And [for] people with not much money, this is a lovely, free way to paddle.”

The paddling pool is ​unique in Bristol and ​enjoyed by families and children from all over ​the city during the summer​. It provides fun, ​promotes exercise and physical well-being and ​enhances ​community spirit. The Friends of St Andrews Park hope fervently that it will be kept open for all to continue enjoying and benefitting from

– Sarah Cemlyn, Friends of St Andrews Park

Alternative ways of funding Bristol’s parks are due to be discussed at Bristol City Council’s Neighbourhood Scrutiny meeting on Monday 24th April.

Proposals include:

  • corporate sponsorship
  • charging for toilets
  • charging for car park use
  • renting public space out for events

The goal is for Bristol’s Parks Service to operate on a ‘cost neutral’ basis by 2020.