CONFUSED parents in Winchester have now been told a flood-hit children’s park is closed.

Despite remaining unlocked throughout the recent bout of bad weather and flooding, the North Walls play area was only closed on Friday (February 28). Parents have said more could have been done to communicate whether the area was safe to use.

Abbotts Barton Community Group’s online webmaster, Sylke Krämer, 49, mother to seven-year-old Yannick, contacted Winchester City Council last week to ask if the area has been cleaned.

They responded saying it had, but have since backtracked and said the park is “closed and awaiting attention shortly”.

The gates have now been locked with a sign which reads “closed until further notice.”

Ms Krämer said people had been using the play area though, and there were no official warnings about possible contamination of water.

“They could have closed it slightly earlier,” she said.

“I had a friend who told me that she came here with her son who slipped and got mucky. It’s not usually super clean this time of year anyway, and we have been told that the water could be contaminated and we do not want to let children in there.”

One parent, Anna Rowland, 37, of Monks Road, Hyde, has two children, nine-month-old Elsie and Molly, four, and was playing in the park on Thursday (February 27).

She said: “It’s the first time we have been back since the flooding and it definitely needs a bit of a clean-up.

“There’s silt and mud everywhere from the river, and a lot of litter around the back. This area is usually lovely, and it is the only play park around here.

“I’m hoping there’s no sewage here, I don’t think there is, but we will be washing our hands when we get home.”

The Chronicle asked Winchester City Council if the play area could have been closed earlier to avoid people using it when it was potentially unsafe.

A spokesman said: “The play area inspector visited the site on Friday and it was still under water. When he returned on the Monday he found that as the floodwater had started to recede, some people had started to use the play area.

“On inspecting the play area he decided that it needed to be cleaned prior to use and the site was then closed. This is a precaution as the mud has made the site slippery.

“There is always potential for contamination with floodwater, but there is no reason to suspect the risk will be higher in this area and any contamination would be in very dilute quantities.

“We are arranging to have this cleaned later this week and the site should be ready to open on Monday (March 10).”