Oswestry Town Council to look at building splash park

The creation of a splash park in a town has taken a step forward after the idea was backed by the town council.

Could scenes like this be coming to Oswestry?
Could scenes like this be coming to Oswestry?

Oswestry Town Councillors said that while the project would inevitably cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, it would prove good value for money over the lifetime of the facility.

The idea of putting a splash park in Cae Glas Park came from deputy mayor Jay Moore, who tabled a motion at a meeting on Wednesday for officers to begin obtaining quotes and gathering information on what the scheme would involve.

Once all the details and costs are known, councillors will need to vote again to progress with the project.

Councillor Moore said: “At the start of this term when we adopted our plans for going forward, one of the things we discussed and agreed on as a council was that we wanted to create some destinations within Oswestry – something that’s going to bring people into town and keep them there, put boots on the ground, support shops, all that good sort of stuff.

“I think in order to do that we have to create destinations for people to come and enjoy.

“As most of you know I’m a teacher, I deal with 120-odd students on my books and the majority of those families all travel out to Shrewsbury and Telford regularly to go and enjoy the splash parks that have been provided in those parks by the council.

“If we are going to look at creating a destination, something like this seems to be a very good place to start.”

It is believed it would cost around £300,000 to create a facility similar to the one in Shrewsbury, plus extra for a plant room.

Councillor Moore said: “As the council is well aware, we have been sitting on massive amounts of money for a long time and doing nothing with it – and that’s not what this new council is about.”

Concerns were voiced over the cost of purchasing and installing the equipment, as well as ongoing maintenance.

Councillor Paul Milner said it was “an awful lot of money”, adding that he would like to see the idea put out for public consultation before a final decision is taken.

These concerns were echoed by Councillor John Price, who said the money could be spent on other projects. He said: “What could we do with £300,000, spread across the town?”

Councillor Duncan Kerr said voting to look into the idea did not commit the council to the project.

He said: “I think it’s a fabulous idea. Children have had a very tough time during Covid and even before that with the cuts in youth services.”

He added that the money could come from the £4 million the council had in the bank from the sale of the Smithfield site – which can only be spent on capital projects and not day-to-day services.

Councillor Kerr said: “That money either sits there doing very little, getting very little interest these days – losing money effectively from inflation – or we actually invest it for the people of Oswestry.

“I think it’s the sort of initiative that’s absolutely essential for the people of Oswestry, who want to create a thriving town which challenges larger towns to be that place to live, raise a family and enjoy yourself.”

On the cost, Councillor Mike Isherwood said: “We don’t know how much it will cost at this stage.

“It could be that we don’t go for one as elaborate or big as the Shrewsbury one, which is the example that we’ve been given.

“We have to remember that a lot of people aren’t very well-off and there’s very little that you can do that doesn’t cost money these days.

“I just think it would be quite a special thing that we could achieve here, that would almost revolutionise the way people see Oswestry as a place to live and a place to bring up children.

“It is an eye-watering sum of money when you say it out loud, and you say ‘what could we do with that £300,000?’

“Well the fact is we haven’t been doing anything with that £300,000 – it’s been sitting in the bank since the Smithfield was sold, losing value and doing nothing for the people of this town for a long time.”

Councillor Kerr added: “This is something that would be there for 20 or 25 years.

“It looks a large sum when you provide these things, but then you work it out over the lifetime and the number of kids that will use it over those 25 years and it starts to look great value for money.”

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