National chlorine shortage shuts Sheerness paddling pool

A national chlorine shortage has shut Sheerness paddling pool.

Frustrated parents turned up hoping their children could cool down by splashing in the open-air pool but were faced with an empty pool instead.

Empty: Sheerness paddling pool
Empty: Sheerness paddling pool

Janet Dedman, who runs an ice-cream hut on the promenade, said: "There were so many disappointed parents and children. It's a safe, sheltered area which some prefer to the open water and pebbles of the beach."

She added: "We never used to have this trouble. It always used to be open six months of the year, not just six weeks for the school holidays. It just gets worse. Sittingbourne gets a lovely new cinema and we can't even get a paddling pool open. It's laughable."

The pool was closed last week and was still shut today (Thursday). It may not reopen until the end of July, according to some reports.

Swale council has used social media to apologise.

The council wrote on Facebook: "We’re sorry the ongoing nationwide shortage of chlorine means we haven’t been able to reopen the paddling pool at Beachfields, Sheerness yet.

Sheerness paddling pool. Picture: Swale council
Sheerness paddling pool. Picture: Swale council

"In partnership with our leisure contractors Swale Community Leisure and Serco Leisure we’ve managed to keep the main pools in Sheerness and Sittingbourne open by prioritising their supply of chlorine."

It added: "We’re hopeful that we’ll get an additional delivery in the next few weeks so we can get the paddling pool up and running again. But if we don’t, we’ll look into alternative options.

"Once we get the chlorine, it will take a few days to clean, heat and treat the pool before it opens."

It went on: "We really appreciate people’s understanding and we can’t wait to reopen and see families having fun at the pool again."

Cllr Cameron Beart (Con), who represents Halfway and Queenborough on Sheppey, said: "The shortage is being attributed to a temporarily reduced supply in the UK, a backlog coming from China’s supply chain caused by Covid, a significant fire in a US chemical plant in late 2020 and worldwide transportation issues."

State of Sheerness paddling pool in 2019
State of Sheerness paddling pool in 2019

The pool, behind Sheerness Leisure Centre, is no stranger to controversy. It was closed in 2017 for a full refurbishment and in 2019 was left empty for weeks.

One fed-up parent asked: "Why don't they just use filtered seawater like they do at the Strand at Gillingham?"

Another said on Facebook: "It’s a real shame. Every year it’s never ready when needed. It gets packed with everyone who wanted to use it earlier and the season of it being open is gone in a flash.

"I don’t get why thousands of pounds were spent refurbishing it, for it now to sit there unused and closed - even after the longest day has been and gone! What a waste of the town's resources."

The setback comes just weeks after Swale council abandoned plans for a new swimming pool as part of its £20 million bid for the government's levelling-up fund on the grounds it was too costly.

Campaigners have been asking for a tidal paddling pool to be built on the beach which would be kept full by seawater.

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