Plans to create a splash park in Oswestry have taken a step forward after the idea was backed by Oswestry Town Council.
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 and one former mayor said it could be financed using the £4 million proceeds of the Smithfield market site sale.
Deputy mayor Jay Moore tabled a motion at a meeting on Wednesday for officers to begin obtaining quotes and gathering information on such a scheme. Councillor Moore said: “One thing 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.
“I think in order to do that we have to create destinations for people to come and enjoy."
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.”
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, while Councillor John Price said the money could be spent on other projects.
Councillor Duncan Kerr said voting to look into the idea did not commit the council to the project. 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. He 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 it didn't have to match the Shrewsbury park, but that it could provide a free day out for less well-off people. He said: “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.”