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Hyde Park (Bathing)

Volume 464: debated on Monday 2 May 1949

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asked the Minister of Works why he attempted to prevent bathing in the Serpentine, at Easter.

The normal date for opening the mixed bathing season in Hyde Park is the last Saturday in May, and there has been no demand in previous years for earlier opening. Safeguarding the lives, health and property of bathers necessitates a number of arrangements, including the recruitment of a staff of attendants, erection of canvas shelters and chlorination of the water. These arrangements take about three weeks to make.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that in future years he will take to heart the lesson which he was taught rather forcibly this year, and make the necessary arrangements in time for the first public holiday?

No, Sir. I think that it would be absolute waste of money to make these arrangements three weeks in advance and then for no use to be made of the service.

Surely the Minister realises that in this exceptionally warm weather the public are entitled to bathe? Does he think that anyone but a Government Department would give such a ridiculous answer?

I am not preventing anyone from bathing. All I am saying is that it would be unwise to make these preparations more than three weeks before the date which has been the normal date for the opening of the bathing season.

Could not members of the public who wanted to bathe have been allowed to go in at their own risk? What is there to be said against that?

I do not know that any people have been stopped. All I say is that preparations for mixed bathing could not have been made in time.