Councillor hits out at 'huge intransigence' over splash pad project

Cllr Alison Whelan behind splash pad idea for Ely

Ely councillor Alison Whelan believes both parish and district councils need to offer more support if a splash pad is to come to the city. - Credit: Tracy Corley/Daniel Mason

A councillor who has backed campaigners to build a splash pad to Ely fears that there is not “a will in either council” to bring the idea to life. 

Cllr Alison Whelan has supported the campaign since it was launched as talks to identify a suitable site in the city continue. 

But Cllr Whelan, a parish and East Cambridgeshire district councillor, feels there is not enough support from either council for the project. 

“I think there’s been a huge intransigence around the cost of it,” she said. 

“I don’t think there’s anything that will convince them; it really is that difficult.” 

A site for the splash pad was first identified at the Paradise Centre, but after talks broke down, a location adjacent to The Hive Leisure Centre on Downham Road was found. 

Campaigners were against this idea and a site on High Barns, leased by City of Ely Council (CoE), was highlighted but rejected by CoE. 

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Cllr Lis Every, member of CoE’s outdoor sport and leisure working group, said it will cost £10,000 a year to maintain a splash pad, a cost that Cllr Whelan feels is not worth it to some. 

Ely councillor Alison Whelan

Cllr Alison Whelan has backed a campaign to bring a splash pad to Ely since it first launched and is calling on her council colleagues to show more willpower towards the idea. - Credit: Daniel Mason

She feels some councillors believe the splash pad is “not popular enough and there is no real benefit to it” due to only being available during certain months of the year. 

“I don’t believe there is a will in either council to help,” Cllr Whelan added. 

“The real question is tasking the new mayor to do this and the public to make the mayor shine a light on it.” 

Cllr Every said both CoE and East Cambs Council (ECDC) have “expressed their continuing support” to build the splash pad, which may have to be built on land not owned by ECDC. 

“We will run out of venues so if we can’t put the splash pad on ECDC land, we have to find a provider and that is probably a stumbling block,” she said. 

“It’s frustrating we can’t find a venue that suits everybody, but that does not mean it won’t happen.” 

An ECDC spokesperson said officers “remain available to assist the group in exploring further options.” 

It is believed around £250,000 will be needed to build the splash pad. 

Angela Haylock, part of the splash pad campaign group, said it will look into “various ways to fund this. 

“We are still hopeful something will come to light.”