Bakewell wet play area opening hours restored

Picture by Paul Morgans
Picture by Paul Morgans

Council chiefs have reinstated the original opening times of a children’s wet play area following public outcry – despite neighbours’ claims that the noise from it is ‘debilitating’.

Derbyshire Dales District Council cut the opening hours of the splash pads at Bakewell Recreation Ground following a noise complaint from a resident. After this two separate petitions were handed into the council calling for the hours to be restored.

Ken Goodfellow, who has lived in Wye Bank, Bakewell, for 40 years, made the original complaint to the council about noise from the splash pads, which are located close to his garden.

Speaking in a meeting of the council, he said: “I pay my council tax to enjoy my house and my garden – I can’t for six months of the year.”

Mr Goodfellow explained that it wasn’t the sound of children playing he objected to – but the high–pitched squeals youngsters make when they are squirted with cold water.

“It’s a noise from which you can’t escape,” he said. “It’s debilitating and it’s had an effect on my health and my wellbeing.”

He added that because the splash pads are located so far away from the public toilets, children often use his hedge as a toilet, and he sometimes finds nappies thrown in his garden.

Neighbour Bill Storey, who has lived in Wye Bank for 36 years, commented: “The equipment is fantastic but it is simply in the wrong place.”

He added that the sound of children squealing was so loud he was unable to have a conversation in his own garden.

Councillor Carol Walker said: “Whilst I have every sympathy with the complainants, I do think this council has applied some technical measures to deal with these noise issues.”

She said that she did not want to deprive children of going to the wet play area during the heat wave.

“It attracts tourists and visitors,” Cllr Walker added.

Heidi McDougall, head of environmental service at the authority, said since the opening hours of the splash pads had been reduced more and more people are using the river to cool off.

Officers recommended two options to address the problem – both of which related to revised opening hours at the wet play area.

These were dismissed by councillors however, the majority of whom voted in favour of a proposal put forward by Cllr Walker to restore the original opening hours of the wet play area with immediate effect and maintain dialogue with residents to find a solution to the noise problem.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Goodfellow said: “If nothing is resoled by the end of this season, then my next step is going to the ombudsman and possibly the legal route.”