Life Video

By Amy Farnworth

A mother from Derby is defying her health and safety mad, spoil-sport landlords by setting up paddling pools for children who live on her street.

Kirsty Roberts, of Crewton Way, Alvaston, has been putting the paddling pools out on a piece of communal land during hot weather, for the last four years.

James Ward/Caters News

The mother of six says that it brings the community together and gives the children somewhere to cool off and play, especially during this years’ heatwave.

But Kirsty’s landlords, Friendship Care and Housing, have now told the 35 year old that she is breaching the terms of her tenancy agreement and must take them down.

Stay at home mum, Kirsty, said the situation is a farce, and believes her landlords are taking health and safety too far and are ruining the spirit 

of their tight-knit community.

Kirsty said: “We’ve never had any problems with having these paddling pools out in the past, and it’s only since Friendship Care and Housing joined up with Longhurst Housing Group that we’ve had an issue.

James Ward/Caters News

“We’ve been doing this for the kids for four years, and we’ve even had housing officers come out and sit with us while the kids play in the pools. 

“There’s nothing in my tenancy agreement to say that I can’t put a paddling pool up, so I think they’re taking this a bit too far.

“There are always people present while the children are playing in the pools; we take the safety of our kids very seriously.

“I don’t know whether the housing group want us to have a lifeguard on duty or what, but if there are adults around monitoring the children, and I’m a first aider, I can’t see what the problem is.”

Kirsty said that out of the houses on her street, only a handful of them actually have gardens; the rest of the residents live in flats.

She said: “There are only about five actual houses on this street, and they have really small gardens. The rest are flats, so the kids living in the flats don’t have anywhere to play.

“We set the paddling pools up in the communal area as the gardens are too small to put them in.

James Ward/Caters News

“There’s about 35 kids in this area, and they all want to use the pools; everyone knows it’s safe, the housing group are just being ridiculous.”

Kirsty said that if the paddling pools were an inconvenience to anyone they would take them down, but nobody on the estate has complained in the last four years, so she’s kept putting them up.

She said: “There is a really strong community spirit here in this street and we all look out for each other, we all try to help each other, there are always people out here supervising, it is just a really nice community.

“We don’t want to cause trouble but we want to create somewhere for the kids to go and play together.

“There are not many places for children to play or things for them to do and so over the last few years we have taken it upon ourselves as a community to provide things, not just for our own children and this street, but for those further out on the estate.”

In May, Kirsty received a letter from Friendship Care and Housing, which is part of the Longhurst Group, ordering her to take the paddling pools down.

James Ward/Caters News

She said: “I was really shocked when I received a letter telling me to take them down because, at the end of the day, it is taking away the children’s fun and our community spirit.

“It really isn’t fair, we clean up after ourselves we look after them how we should, there is nothing dangerous going on and it is a joke that we have been told we cannot have them.

“Were the pools in our gardens I don’t think the landlords would have a problem, but we can’t possibly fit them in there.

“It’s health and safety gone mad.”

Kirsty bought the pools with help from some of her neighbours, and up until she was told to take them down in May, there were three pools sitting on a small piece of communal grassland just outside Kirsty’s house.

Kirsty said: “We have three different sizes of pool, one for the under 7s, one for the under 12s, and one for the older kids.

“Everyone looks out for one another and to be told we are using the communal area for something other than its intended purpose is stupid. It’s a communal area; we are being a community.”

Staff at Friendship Care and Housing, which is part of Longhurst Group, wrote to Kirsty in May telling her she must take the pools down.

James Ward/Caters News

A Longhurst Group spokesperson, said: “Within the terms of our tenancy agreements, we set out clear guidelines around the use of communal areas.

“Customers are aware that these areas should only be used for their intended purpose and that the safety and comfort of others should be considered at all times.

“In this case, we reminded the customer of the terms of their tenancy agreement and asked that items were removed from a communal area in order to avoid further inconvenience to other residents.”

Kirsty is now hoping to enlist the help of her local councillor, Alan Graves, and hopes that with his support they will be able to put the pools back up and enjoy the rest of the summer.

She said: “It’s a kick in the teeth from the housing group; having the pools outside our houses is no different to having them in my garden. I hope they see sense and let us keep them up.”