PARENTS have slammed a move to replace the cafe at the Sunderland Aquatic Centre with a soft play area.
The Echo recently told how the cafe is to be demolished in order to make way for the £100,000 play area aimed at babies, toddlers and young children.
But some parents whose children belong to the centre’s swimming club criticised the plans by Sunderland City Council.
As a result of the revamp, the nearest place to get food and drink is the McDonald’s situated in the industrial park some 10 minutes away.
Jamie Taylor, 44, who has a 16- year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter, who both belong to the swimming club said the decision has not been thought through fully.
Mr Taylor, from, Ryhope, Sunderland, said: “It was a swimming gala last month there was people from all over the North East and the region; people from York, Doncaster, Rotherham, Hull, Sheffield and Newcastle. You’ve got all these swimmers and parents and no way of getting food.”
He continued: “They had one coffee machine upstairs and that broke down at lunchtime. They fixed it within an hour but it broke down again.”
With the recent threat that Newcastle City Pool could close by 2016 because of Government cuts, Mr Taylor said the council should be using the opportunity to attract visitors from further afield.
He said: “It’s a fantastic venue but Sunderland Council don’t use it to their full potential. I pay £150 a month, which is no drop in the ocean. You’ve got Newcastle City pool potentially closing down and so you should have people queuing through the door.
“From being a massive, massive place, it’s gone to waste. It’s a crying shame.”
Councillor John Kelly, who oversees the city council’s public health, wellness and culture portfolio, says that improvements to catering at the facility will be looked at, once the soft play area has been installed.
He added: “Work on the £100,000 facility started on Thursday, 22 November. While we develop this, there are limited opportunities for catering.
“Improvements will be made to food and drink vending to replace the cafe which, despite testing a range of operating hours, was operating at a loss.
“We are examining what additional catering arrangements could be put in place for galas and one-day events.”