A POPULAR family splash park has been excluded from the list of swimming pools re-opening in South Oxfordshire because it is an ‘uncontrolled’ space.

South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) has announced Wallingford’s Riverside Jubilee Splash Park will not be reopening but the Mayor of Wallingford, Lee Upcraft, has questioned the decision not to reopen the attraction.

Following the Government’s announced that indoor gyms and pools can open from July 25, SODC said outdoor splash pools and swimming pools in Abingdon and Wallingford will not reopen this year.

Mr Upcraft wrote to SODC explaining why he believes the splash park should re-open. He said it is a much-needed family facility and highlighted that the transmission of coronavirus is reduced outside.

He also believes not reopening the splash park is unfair on those families without a garden.

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Mr Upcraft said: “In the summer holidays kids and families need outdoor activities and the splash park is an ideal one.

“I could understand if all leisure centres were remaining closed, but if they can open some leisure centres that are mainly indoor focused, I don’t see why they can’t open the splash park.”

In the letter to SODC Mr Upcraft said: “There is a growing consensus that the transmission of Covid-19 outdoors, most especially in the summer months, is very much less than that indoors.”

He added: “I would point out that there is a widespread and justified expectation that council taxpayers should be receiving the services that they are paying for.

“The splash-park in Wallingford is one such venue and I would want see an exceptional justification for this not be opened.”

However, SODC believe opening the park would encourage large social gatherings and it would be hard to implement restrictions as it is an uncontrolled space.

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A spokesperson for SODC said: “We appreciate that the decision to not open the outdoor pool and splash park in Wallingford for the Summer 2020 season is disappointing, especially when residents are so looking forward to enjoying the warmer weather as lockdown measures are relaxed. The decision was made following a request from Better, the council’s contractor which manages the council’s leisure facilities.”

The council explained that with new guidelines in place only 16 swimmers could use the pool per hour and normally 80 would use the outside pool for swimming and not for play and fun activities.

A spokesperson from SODC added: “The splash pads would also require restrictions and it is an uncontrolled space, with the chance to attract large social gatherings, particularly in the hot weather. We would not want to encourage large groups of people and social distancing would be hard to manage.”

The district council said it has made this decision with the residents’ safety in mind and explained it would take too long to prepare the facilities to re-open.