This article is best read after a previous Gurn article available here which details Liz MacDonald addressing River Community Council last night in the URC hall on the subject of the future of the paddling pool
After Liz’s opening report to the meeting Ian Gordon spoke on how the paddling pool and the beach go together.
Liz responded: “A lot of people that do come are day trippers that come to the paddling pool.”
Simon Noble then asked: “You said it was open for 44 days, what were the reasons for restricting the number of days open?”
Liz replied: “There was seepage in the pool and then when the water leaks out the chemicals go wrong so that was one of the things, sometimes it was just because of bad weather. There’s no point in having a lifeguard on duty and watching it if there is bad weather.”
Simon Noble’s second question related to the lifeguard: “As things currently stand am I right in believing that the pool cannot be opened without a lifeguard being present?”
“That’s right,” replied Liz.
Simon continued: “Did you say if the pool was a smaller size it would not require the presence of a lifeguard?”
“That’s what we were told a few years ago as well. If the pool was reduced in surface area then we wouldn’t be a need to have a lifeguard present,” said Liz. “Even then we wouldn’t need to have the cover over it, the net over it, so it could be open all the time you would think if you didn’t need a lifeguard.”
Cllr Stephen Fulller then added that it was also to do with how deep the water level was as well.
Simon Noble returned to his questions: “Could it not be that part of what would be useful at the consultation would be to know what the water level and the requirements are for not having a lifeguard because it seems to me that health and safety requirements have shifted since I was a kid.”
Murray MacRae then asked: “Can you tell me how much it would actually cost in total to actually fix it and have it up and running? Have any prices been quoted?”
Liz then said: “We were given a price but I wouldn’t like to say it publically just now because...”
Murray interrupted: “Why not, what is there to hide?”
Liz continued: “Well I’m not hiding anything because of commercial confidentiality. If someone gives you a price for something and we say it publically then if everyone that was tendering for that work could then put it in at the same price or a couple of hundred less to get the job. We were given a price and that was just for the...to make the pool sound and even then there wasn’t any guarantee on any longevity. We couldn’t say we’ll cost you this and it’ll last you five or ten years. They wouldn’t give us any guarantees because of the structure that is underneath the paddling pool. It just keeps shifting and that is why we need to keep repairing it.”
Murray asked: “Is it at the stage now where it is beyond...”
“No,” said Liz quickly. “I thought why couldn’t we put fibre glass, because yachts are made out of fibre glass. We couldn’t get anything stronger. Do we need to have something that just works with this concrete base we’ve got? We need to get proper costing and I would imagine that the cost we have been quoted would be much higher than...”
Tommy Hogg then spoke: “You see what is happening is that the chemicals are actually eating through the brickwork.”
To which Liz added: “And the sand is shifting underneath it. It has got an unstable base, it totally needs dug out and a whole new base put in basically.”
This observer then said: “I appreciate Liz’s commercial confidentiality and there is probably no way you can get round that but how can you have a frank and open debate with all the information in the public domain if the public don’t know how much that would cost?”
Liz replied: “If we can look at things. If we can say are we going to make this pool smaller and if people accept that as an option then we can move ahead and do something.”
Ian Gordon asked if it would be a complete different thing to be really cost effective as there was no point in spending money again if next year you were to go through the same process with the bricks deteriorating due to the chemicals.
Liz again: “I think if we could fibre glass it because I think fibre glass is one of the strongest things we have. Yachts are made out of it and they are battered about all over the place. We need to be open about this. I didn’t want this to sit on a shelf and then next year when the pool didn’t open or something...I think it is important that...”
Tommy spoke again: “The facility there and the setting for a start. Where else would you get a setting like that for a paddling pool...you’ll not getting a better setting anywhere in the country”
“I know, it is beautiful,” said Liz.
“If you throw that away it would just be madness,” said Tommy.
“You don’t know we could maybe have something better. We don’t know. I think we need to look at all our options,” said Liz.
Simon Noble then said: “but at the same time you don’t want to be spending loads of money repairing something that is going to need it again next year. Plus you don’t want to be spending it on something that you’re dependent on having a member of staff there because that is really expensive. [...] Would it not make sense if you’re going to have a pool sense to make it something sustainable not only in terms of the materials that are used but also in terms of the staffing requirements, in other words nil staff.”
“Yes,” said Liz, “ to meet the requirements that you don’t need staff there.”
Tommy added: “The thing is that the defects that are there, they are not going to get any better they are going to get worse and the way it is going it’s going to be a lot worse.”
Liz said: “We want to be open, we want to get...I don’t want to lose the pool anyway.”
Ian Gordon then said: “I appreciate the thing ofconfidentiality but unless we are aware of all the facts which we are not, how can we really discuss it properly?”
Liz responded: “I think the costs we were given for digging out the whole pool and filling it all in again and making it watertight again with no guarantee of how long it was going to last was significant and I thought...and it would still be for the same size pool with all the same ongoing costs and I think...for me, it just seemed too expensive. But I think we need to be open, we need to look at other options.
Over the course of the summer, there’s a guy there with a clicker and he clicks however many people go through the fence, that was another...we had to put the fence round it a few years ago to keep out dogs seemingly but dogs wouldn’t... They clicked it and they counted 1780 people went through. That doesn’t mean 1780 children, sometimes parents go through. 1780 people went through clickers on that 44 days that it was open.”
When it was suggested that was still a lot of people Liz said: “It’s a lot of people but it is more than £2 per person going through when you think it’s £4,000 just to open it this year.”
The debate continued, more on the Gurn when time permits.