Anglian Water hosepipe ban could hit parks and play areas

Water features and sports facilities in city parks and play areas could be among the areas affected by drought when hosepipe restrictions come into force next month.

The domestic hosepipe ban which Anglian Water will introduce from April 5 excludes businesses but will include public gardens and sports grounds.

Norwich City Council have pre-emptively planted drought-resistant flowers and implemented water-saving features in hanging baskets and flower beds, but won't know exactly how new bedding plants will be affected until May.

Meanwhile public parks and open spaces will not escape the restrictions on filling paddling pools and water fountains.

A new play area at Waterloo Park, between Aylsham Road and Angel Road, was opened after a �215,000 revamp last summer, with local schoolchildren splashing around among the high-tech fountains and water jets.

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The 'splash pad' attraction was designed with water-saving measures including the collection of used water in a storage reservoir in the ground so that it could be pumped onto nearby bowling greens and trees.

But as it is fed from the mains, both the water feature and the watering of the sports grounds will have to stop from Easter onwards.

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Deborah Gihawi, Norwich City Council's cabinet member for parks and open spaces, said: 'It really is a regrettable position to be in that a lot of our areas including the splash pad facility at Waterloo Park will be affected by the ban. We only hope that this doesn't last for too long, so we can continue to keep Norwich's beautiful areas beautiful for the city's residents.'

Terry Bane, the council's horticultural officer, said: 'Hosepipe bans aren't anything new – and we do all we can to minimise any possible negative effects.

'This includes choosing drought tolerant plants for bedding areas and using manure as well as water-retaining molecules in the ground.

'The hanging baskets around the city are also specially designed with water reservoirs in them to retain any water and minimise the amount they need.

'A key time for us will be towards the end of May and beginning of June as that's when we do our planting out and when they need to be watered in. At the moment we don't know how long the ban will last so we will just have to see what the situation is in a few weeks from now.'

Meanwhile, the use of water in hundreds of schools and council buildings in Norfolk is to be placed under the spotlight as part of an investigation by councillors.

Members of Norfolk County Council have agreed at a meeting yesterday to set up a working group to scrutinise how much water the council uses, what the cost of it is, and how efficiency could be improved.

Elsewhere, an organiser of the annual Fakenham in Bloom festival said it is 'highly unlikely' that the popular event will go ahead this year, due to water restrictions. The festival usually sees more than 100 planters and hanging baskets placed around the town from June to September, watered from a bowser.

Fakenham Area Partnership co-ordinator Janet Holdom said: 'I can not confirm it but at the moment it looks highly unlikely that the Fakenham in Bloom festival will go ahead this year. The event has become very popular and this would have been its ninth season, so if we do have to cancel, it will be very sad news.'

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