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Families criticise delay in opening Cassiobury Park pool after attempted break-in at kiosk
Bureaucratic boxtickers have been blamed for keeping hundreds of children out of a Watford paddling pool on the hottest day of the year while repairs were carried out to a vandalised kiosk.
As the temperatures soared above 30 degrees, tempers boiled over among parents and youngsters who had come to the park hoping to cool off and enjoy Wednesday's sun.
The combination of the first week of the school summer holidays and one of the first sunny days of the year saw thousands descend on Cassiobury Park but many were left disappointed.
The delay was caused by an attempted break-in overnight to a kiosk at the edge of the site, prompting the whole area to be cordoned off as a crime scene while forensics officers investigated.
Some parents reported their children were suffering heat stroke having been there since before 9am but were not allowed into the fenced off water feature until council workers finished shortly after 1pm.
Kirsten Ashbury, of Bushey Mill Lane, brought her sons Ethan, 11, and Noah, nine, down to the park but was left frustrated by the closure.
She said: "We were hoping to come down early and get a good spot by the pool.
"You just don’t know when this weather will come back so to find the pool closed is frustrating to say the least.
"What I can’t understand is why they can’t just cordon off that area and let the children play in the pool."
Edward and Patricia Sandells had travelled from Buckinghamshire to visit the park and were left frustrated by the closure.
He said: "It’s the hottest day of the year so far and we have to stand here and look at three empty pools while police do their forensics.
"It’s all red tape and waiting for one person to come down and sign off - nobody seems to be able to make a decision and this has been going on since 9am."
Forensics officers left the scene at 12.20pm and Watford Borough Council , which owns the pools, carried out works to make the site safe before opening shortly after 1pm.
Peter Nelson, a council spokesman, said repairs to make the site safe were carried out as quickly as possible.
He said: "While the police were investigating the attempted break in at Cassiobury Park paddling pools, the whole area of the pools had to be cordoned off as it was a crime scene and to ensure that no evidence was removed whilst the police forensic team was on site."
The police left the paddling pools at approximately 12.20pm and within 40 minutes temporary repairs had been made to the roof of the building by council workers and the pools had reopened.
Sarah Spence, a Hertfordshire Constabulary spokesman, said the theft had taken place between 7.40pm on Tuesday and 7.40am on Wednesday.
She said: "An unknown number of offenders climbed on to a red metal fence then removed a number of tiles and smashed a hole through the roof.
"It is being treated as an attempted burglary."
Anybody with information about the attempted burglary is asked to contact police on 101, quoting reference C1/12/3531.