Water park charge could be increased
PUBLISHED: 13:00 04 January 2013
CHARGES for Weston’s seafront water park could be increased to £1.50 this year.
A proposal to raise the charge from its current price of £1 has been proposed and will be included in Weston Town Council’s draft budget for 2013/14.
Town council leader and Conservative representative Keith Morris said the proposal was ‘economic’ and people using the attraction should meet more of the burden for maintaining it, as opposed to the town’s taxpayers.
But the proposals have been attacked by other councillors, with one describing the proposal as ‘fundamentally not fair’.
The charge increase was proposed as the council looks to finalise its budget for the next financial year.
A decision will be made by the authority’s policy and finance committee in the new year.
The water park was first opened in 2010, and the £1 charge for children using it came into force the following year. Adults are not charged for entry.
Although the attraction has proved to be popular, 2012 was a disappointing year for footfall and the park’s income was below expectations at £25,491, with £16,491 of that raised through the admission price.
Cllr Morris said: “The decision is economic. When we first started the water park we didn’t realise that we would have to have such a cost as the toilets which are there now.
“Raising the price would mean less of a burden on the taxpayers, and the burden should be met by people who use the park.
“I don’t think it’s unreasonable. You can be in there all day with a child for £1.50 or two children for £3.”
The water park comes under the parks and play areas section of the town council budget.
Last year expenditure on parks and play areas was £109,534 but that figure is expected to jump up to £237,220 for 2013/14 due to the authority’s takeover of recreation grounds from North Somerset Council.
But fellow town councillor Clare Kingsbury-Bell said she and fellow Liberal Democrat members would oppose the move before a final decision was made, and it would not be included in their alternative budget proposals.
She said: “All this is going to do is make it unaffordable for more local families to use the water park, and it’s fundamentally not fair.”
Reacting to Cllr Morris’ reasoning that park users should bear more of the burden, she added: “That argument doesn’t make any sense.
“Does that mean that I don’t have to pay for the maintenance of some pavements because I don’t walk on them?
“You can’t just penalise society in that way. Council members are elected to make decisions as a collective.
“I can understand the tourists but with the residents that argument doesn’t work at all.”
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