Having grown up in Hillsborough and spending the last 12 years living on Rivelin Valley Road, I have watched the demise and redevelopment of what are known locally as Rivelin Paddling Pools.
As a kid visiting there in the ’60s, through to taking my own children there in the early ’80s, I retain many fond memories.
Like many others I watched in dismay as it fell into disrepair through council cutbacks and increased health and safety risks, but was delighted to see a campaign led by the adjoining cafe for its return and waited in anticipation for more money to be found for its restoration.
The council duly obliged and I looked forward to visiting again with our grandchildren.
Alas, despite the cost of the project and long wait, I feel let down by some of the constraints and layout of this whole redevelopment over the last few years and this weekend’s events lead me to believe our local council and police are probably wishing it had never happened.
The new layout means that the top half of the development is populated by gimmicky water-based machinery and pump-type showers, which half the time are not working.
Meanwhile, the most popular part for toddlers and babies, which is the traditional paddling pool, shows that clearly there are not enough side benches or paved seating for everybody in hot weather.
Why the new development did not follow the old design, who knows.
Also the facility only opens from the end of May to August Bank Holiday, and also is locked to the general public until opening at 11am, even when many families arrive much earlier for a day out or picnic.
Maybe this is due to having to provide a park keeper to switch on the pumps, but surely allowing extra opening times and length of season would benefit what bit of hot weather we have in this country?
Finally, and maybe my biggest gripe, all of the families who flock to this facility in hot weather are now subject to attempting to park their cars at an ever-diminishing roadside on the valley.
Why was a car park not considered for this facility?
Add this to tree felling, temporary traffic lights and cars driving like maniacs near children playing or getting out of cars (my house further up the valley also suffers from this) and what a mess we have created.
And the final insult...
I witnessed parking wardens yesterday earning easy pickings from the poor families who have attempted to park their cars in this hot weather to attend this once great facility.
They will pay their undeserved parking fines and go elsewhere with better opening times, facilities and safer parking.