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Aqua Park Suffolk to offer full refunds following algae scare

PUBLISHED: 15:37 21 July 2018 | UPDATED: 12:17 22 July 2018

A sign warning about the blue-green algae at Alton Water Picture: TERRY HUNT

A sign warning about the blue-green algae at Alton Water Picture: TERRY HUNT

TERRY HUNT

The director of the splash park at Alton Water that became infected with dangerous blue-green algae has announced the company will be offering full refunds to any customers unable to reschedule their bookings.

Richard Drinkwater, director of Aqua Park Suffolk, said the company was “sorry for the disappointment caused”, and would be contacting all customers booked into the splash park this weekend to inform them of the situation.

Where rescheduling is not possible, Mr Drinkwater confirmed the company will be offering full refunds.

Aqua Park will also be crediting customer accounts with an additional gift voucher, which can be used at any time.

The news comes after all Aqua Park sessions were cancelled and visitors were told not to enter the water after dangerous blue-green algae was found in the reservoir.

Laura Wright, who had her £200 booking cancelled, with son Ronnie Picture: LAURA WRIGHTLaura Wright, who had her £200 booking cancelled, with son Ronnie Picture: LAURA WRIGHT

The discovery of the toxins at Alton Water – which if swallowed can cause illnesses including skin rashes, eye irritation, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and muscle and joint pain – caused watersports and other activities to be cancelled.

A number of customers were faced with last-minute changes, with one woman reporting that she was informed in the early hours of this morning that her son’s birthday party would be cancelled the very same day.

Laura Wright, 38, from East Bergholt, immediately had to set about organising an alternative party for her son, Ronnie, and 10 of his friends.

“I was just so frustrated at the situation,” she said. “[The e-mail] was sent to me at about half four last night, saying: ‘We have had to shut...’

Ronnie, who is 10 tomorrow, said he felt like he'd let his friends down after his party at Aqua Park Suffolk was cancelled Picture: LAURA WRIGHTRonnie, who is 10 tomorrow, said he felt like he'd let his friends down after his party at Aqua Park Suffolk was cancelled Picture: LAURA WRIGHT

“It left me with half an hour to find somewhere for my son to go for his birthday party.”

Ms Wright settled on a go-karting trip, which set her back a further £280. Once food and other expenses were factored in, the cost of the day had mounted to £600.

“I am fortunate enough that I have got enough money to pay for another party,” she said, adding that she understood not all parents would be so lucky.

“I completely understand it’s not their fault – my problem was their customer service. Bad customer service gets my back up, especially when it involves children’s parties. It is just bad management.”

Ronnie enjoying his last-minute go-karting party Picture: LAURA WRIGHTRonnie enjoying his last-minute go-karting party Picture: LAURA WRIGHT

Ms Wright added that Ronnie, who is 10 tomorrow, was particularly upset by the ordeal – as his friends had been so excited to play at the splash park.

“My son’s biggest issue was he felt that we had really let them down by not going,” she said.

In a statement responding to customers’ concerns, Mr Drinkwater, said: “Both Anglian Water and Aqua Park Suffolk are sorry for the disappointment caused to visitors who will have been looking forward to their day out, however the safety and wellbeing of our customers must come first.

“We have moved as quickly as possible to notify our customers as soon as the water samples taken by Anglian Water scientists meant that Anglian Water had to temporarily close their water sports facilities and Aqua Park Suffolk as a precaution because of blue-green algae.

“We are working closely with Anglian Water to monitor the situation and Anglian Water is testing the water twice daily. We will reopen the facilities once algal levels return to normal. Algal blooms are a natural occurrence and therefore difficult to predict or prevent, they are purely a result of the record breaking period of warm weather.

“At the moment we are contacting our customers booked into Aqua Park Suffolk this weekend, to inform them of the situation and reschedule bookings. Where that’s not possible, we are offering full refunds. In addition, we are crediting customer accounts with an additional gift voucher that they can use at any time.

“Going forward, we will continue to directly inform our customers who are named as Group Leaders on the booking ticket, by email, phone and by text as early as possible about any changes to their booking. If they do not hear from us then they should assume the Aqua Park is open. However if they are unsure or have concerns they can email us at suffolk@aquaparkgroup.co.uk.”

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