Kids splash out for free this summer

Thousands of youngsters are flocking to Merton’s paddling pools to cool off from the sun’s rays this summer.

Open from 26 July to 3 September to coincide with the school holidays, Merton’s eight paddling pools are free for families to enjoy and offer a welcome retreat from the heat during the warm and balmy days.

Merton Council invests £79,000 a year in the pools to cover the cost of the water, electricity, water treatment, staffing and maintenance. Each pool is enjoyed by an estimated average of 150 people at any one time throughout the summer season which means the investment works out at excellent value of about 15p per person per visit.

In addition, Wimbledon Park paddling pool was revamped and relaunched in 2007. The traditional paddling pool has been replaced with a state of the art interactive water play area. The total cost of the project was around £150,000, the majority of which was raised by the Wimbledon Park Heritage Group with contributions from Merton Council. In line with the council’s drive to be more sustainable, the new facility now uses 25% less water compared with traditional paddling pools. The interactive jets are activated by touch sensors, so the water only flows when in use and this new pool has proved extremely popular with local residents.

Merton’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, Councillor Maurice Groves said; “The paddling pools are extremely popular in the warm weather and offer families the perfect day out. Merton Council is putting the needs of residents first by providing great places to have fun and cool down during the summer months, and which don’t cost them a penny. At a time when we’re all feeling the pinch, residents may well be considering a staycation – or taking a holiday at home – and just enjoying what’s on their own doorstep.”