THE leader of the borough council has responded to calls to re-open Eastrop paddling pool saying it was decided it was “safer” to keep it closed to “prevent large gatherings”.

Parents have been pleading with the council to re-open the paddling pool, along with Chineham Park Splash Pad, in Popley, and the fountains by Festival Place, particularly now the weather has become warmer.

All these facilities which are free to use have been closed since March last year, despite being allowed to re-open. 

Mum Jade Easton said: “We miss Eastrop so much. Some of the best free days out, picnic, swimming and the park. I hope they do open at the end of the month.”

Sarah Hutchings added: “Open it up, let the kids have fun.”

Helen Miles recalled happy memories using the paddling pool as a child, and said: “Let the kids have their fun.”

However, Councillor Ken Rhatigan, leader of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, said the council had decided to keep the paddling pool and other water facilities shut to prevent “the virus spreading”.

He explained: “The government’s roadmap out of lockdown enabled outdoor pools and water play to reopen on Monday 29 March, with the guidance recommending that the facilities should be regularly cleaned, gatherings restricted to groups of six or two households and records kept of those using such facilities for track and trace purposes.

“The safety of our residents is always the council’s first priority and as these informal facilities are not supervised and due to their design there is no way to control the number of users and no system in place to log those people using it. It was therefore felt that it would be safer to leave the sites closed to prevent large gatherings which could in turn lead to the virus spreading.”

He said that it takes “a number of weeks” to clean and carry out checks on the water before the facilities can reopen, but said this work will begin shortly.

A statement on the council’s website said it is working to reopen the paddling pool and Chineham Park Splash Pad at the end of June. 

However, Cllr Rhatigan said: “We are hopeful that these facilities will be able to reopen by early July, however, we are continuing to monitor the government’s roadmap announcements and may adjust this timeline in accordance with their advice.”