Sheffield family’s anger as opening hours of play area cut

Kate Hunt and son George, four
Kate Hunt and son George, four
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A playground popular with Sheffield families has had its opening hours cut – after one person complainted about the sound of children playing.

The wet play area was open seven days a week before council bosses slashed its opening times to just four afternoons a week following the complaint.

Disappointed families turning up at the park to have fun in the sun this week have described the measure as ‘unbelievable’ and ‘upsetting’.

Sheffield resident Kate Hunt travelled 18 miles to Bakewell’s Recreation Ground on Thursday with her mum Jayne, four-year-old son George and four-year-old niece Molly.

She said: “We have been visiting the park on a regular basis for years so was shocked to find the wet area closed – it was particularly upsetting for George and Molly.

“Upon investigating we were told the opening hours had been reduced due to one nearby resident complaining about the noise of children playing.

“It’s beyond belief someone would complain about children having fun – I’m sure the traffic noise from the main road is far more disruptive.

“When I contacted the council, they were apologetic and explained the play area would still be open at certain times, but these aren’t convenient for everyone.”

Under the restricted hours the wet play area, which features splash pads, will be open from noon to 5pm on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays and every afternoon during the school summer holidays.

Kate said: “Weekday mornings during term-time were an ideal time for parents to visit with pre-school children because the bigger children are at school, so it’s less busy and there’s less chance of them getting knocked over.

“Visiting in the afternoon would mean less play time, as we would have to leave quite early to pick up my other children from school. Also you can’t control when the sun is going to come out, so there could be hot days where it’s going to waste.

“I just can’t believe one person’s view outweighs everyone else and they can ruin so many children’s fun.”

A spokesman for Derbyshire Dales District Council said: “The council freely acknowledges it is in a no-win situation here.

“Some time ago, a local resident complained to us about what he claimed was an increase in noise from the play area since the replacement of an old paddling pool in 2010 by new splash pads.

“Our officers carried out tests which showed the noise generated from the play area has the potential to represent a statutory nuisance. It’s not only the noise generated by screaming children, but also the pump that works the splash pads.

“The complainant’s view is the play equipment should be re-sited or closed. However, as the cost of such a move would be significant and its closure unacceptable, we’re trialling a restricted hours operation.

“We are attempting to strike a balance between two sets of views. All feedback will be reported to councillors for further consideration at a meeting early in July.”