Campaign to save popular Derbyshire park paddling pool continues to build support

With spring in the air and thoughts turning to the warmer days of summer, the campaign to defend Matlock’s community paddling pool has taken to the streets this week.
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As previously reported, Derbyshire Dales District Council is planning a six-figure transformation of Hall Leys Park but the plan to replace the current play area pool with a splashpad has been criticised by many park users.

The council has said it is listening to feedback after an online petition was set up to save the pool, but with no reversal in sight the opposition has taken the argument into the park during the school holidays to build support offline too.

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Church Street resident Harper Collins-Sanders said: “I have been collecting signatures and the response has been incredible. I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by the goodwill, not just from residents but also visitors to Matlock.

Matlock mum Harper Collins-Sanders, right, has been out in Hall Leys Park gathering support for the campaign. (Photo: Contributed)Matlock mum Harper Collins-Sanders, right, has been out in Hall Leys Park gathering support for the campaign. (Photo: Contributed)
Matlock mum Harper Collins-Sanders, right, has been out in Hall Leys Park gathering support for the campaign. (Photo: Contributed)

“I spoke to someone from Buxton who brings her grandchildren here all through the summer just because of the pool. There are splashpads in Ashbourne, Bakewell, Heanor but people from those towns are all coming here for the pool.”

The campaign, led by Harper and a small group of fellow parents, has set an initial target of 1,000 signatures to show the council the strength of feeling they are rapidly approaching 700.Harper said: “It is time for the council to listen to the parents visitors and residents of Matlock, who use the paddling pool, the only one in the area. We urge you to listen and change your decision. A splashpad is not wanted.

“We have the support of the park café, the lady who runs the ice cream van, and the lady who runs the boats and the train in the park. There’s a whole business ecosystem that benefits from the pool drawing people into the park.”

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The Government funding being used for the project carries a deadline to procure works contracts by June, shortening the window for the kind of public consultations which usually accompany such changes.

The immediate backlash forced the council to clarify that it would be consulting with the parents and carers of children with accessibility needs, after many said the pool was better suited for their use.

Harper, who describes herself as neurodivergent, said: “The council has said installing a splashpad instead will be more accessible to youngsters with mobility difficulties.

“What about kids who are neurodivergent or have sensory issues? Splash pads can not be used in a gentle, gradual manner. Splash pads will not encourage parents or grandparents to play with their kids. I would also add that the current paddling pool with fountains are very accessible.

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“My daughter is autistic and has been using the pool for years. It’s given her water confidence that she wouldn’t have got otherwise.”

She added: “It’s a shame. It takes away from the good stuff the council is doing. They’ve rescued this money for the town which is great, but they’ve made a huge mistake and we just need them to realise it. Rather than a story about regenerating the park, it’s about what’s being taken away.

“We’ll present the signatures to the council but if that doesn’t work, we’ll organise a rally. We’ll do whatever it takes to get this decision reversed.”

To sign the petition, go to

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