Park users have condemned a ‘ridiculous’ decision by the council to close a play area following a complaint about the noise from children playing.
The shrieks of joy from youngsters enjoying the wet play area in Bakewell Recreation Ground were far from music to one resident’s ears – who complained to Derbyshire Dales District Council that they were too loud.
In response, the authority slashed the opening hours of the facility, from seven days to just four afternoons a week.
Grandmother Anne Barrett regularly visits Bakewell Recreation Ground with her grandson Isaac.
The 76–year–old, of Eyam, said: “I think it’s ridiculous that the council has cut the opening hours because of one noise complaint. The council should reconsider their decision.
“There’s been a wet play area here for years and years and it’s always been popular with young families in the summer months.
“People aren’t always free to come to the park at weekends and it’s nice to come here when it’s not so busy. I can’t see how the restricted hours will make any difference to the resident that has complained either – it just means there will be lots of disappointed children this summer, which is sad.”
A grandfather who lives close to the park, but did not wish to be identified, said: “I can hear the children playing from where I live – but that’s what children do.
“It’s obvious that if you’re close to a play area you’re going to get some children’s noise.”
Marian Lomas, 75, who lives in a house which backs onto the park, said: “The noise from the play area does get very loud sometimes but I would never complain about it as you would come to expect some noise where we are situated. The main noise is from the children playing. They scream and laugh together.”
Bakewell’s mayor, Paul Morgans, said the decision to cut the opening hours was a ‘world gone mad’.
He added: “It is a recreation area for recreation, and that I find it extremely sad that a lot of people’s enjoyment is going to be spoilt by an individual.”
Commenting on Facebook, Bill Storey said: “I know the person who make the complaint. They have lived here for over 40 years and never had cause to complain about the park or paddling pool.
“Since this splash pad was built about 20 feet from their back door, the noise of kids squealing has become unbearable to them.”
Under the restricted hours the wet play area, which features splash pads, will be open from noon to 5pm on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays and every afternoon during the school summer holidays.
A council spokesman said: “The council freely acknowledges it is in a no–win situation here. Some time ago, a local resident complained to us about what he claimed was an increase in noise from the play area since the replacement of an old paddling pool in 2010 by new splash pads.
“Our officers carried out tests which showed the noise generated from the play area has the potential to represent a statutory nuisance. It’s not only the noise generated by screaming children, but also the pump that works the splash pads.
“The complainant’s view is the play equipment should be re–sited or closed. However, as the cost of such a move would be significant and its closure unacceptable, we’re trialling a restricted hours operation. We are attempting to strike a balance between two sets of views. All feedback will be reported to councillors for further consideration at a meeting early in July.”