Fountain to reopen after health fears

A TOWN'S fountain which was switched off amid safety fears is set to re-open this summer, but only as a decorative feature.

James Hore

A TOWN'S fountain which was switched off amid safety fears is set to re-open this summer, but only as a decorative feature.

The Clacton town centre fountain opened last year, but was closed down shortly afterwards due to concerns about the water quality and the effect it could have on children's health.

Youngsters regularly played in the water and the fountain became something of a play area in the town centre.

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Council officers raised concerns about possible dangers and their fears were backed up by the Health Protection Agency and an independent consultant.

It was decided the water treatment system was not suitable for a fountain regularly used by children.

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Harry Shearing, the councillor in charge of technical and procurement services, said he hoped to reopen it as a decorative feature with a one-metre fence around it.

Mr Shearing said: “Part of the issue has been the popularity of the feature and the fact that it was turned into something of a children's playground.

“Whilst it is great that the children loved it and thoroughly enjoyed themselves, concerns were raised whether the water quality was high enough to allow people to play in the jets without potential health risks.

“The concerns were increased by the sheer number of children who regularly played at the site which, itself, also adversely affected the water quality.”

The cost of the fence, if approved, is likely to be around �20,000.

The council did consider keeping the fountain open to youngsters, but it was decided that the underground treatment room was not big enough for extra equipment which would be required.

“The cost of extending the plant room has been looked at but was decided too expensive. A decorative fence is therefore seen as the most sensible and cost-effective solution,” Mr Shearing added.

Michael Talbot, who is in charge of the environment for the council, added: “Genuine concerns were raised about the water quality and we have acted responsibly to deal with them.

“While no one wanted to turn off the feature and spoil people's enjoyment, this had been done in the interests of public and environmental health.”

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