WITH 13 reviews and a rating of 4.5 stars on Google Maps, the newly opened ‘Haslemere Lido’ is already a smash hit.
But while one review reads: “Delightful swimming experience, without the usual level of effluent present in most Surrey rivers. Will recommend to all those with a stern composition.” And another states: “Lovely place! Though I was disappointed that the changing facilities were not open yet and had to change in the bushes.” Don’t be fooled.
This lido is not open to the public. In fact, it does not even exist. The site on Lion Green has become something of a joke to locals – though not everyone is laughing.
Haslemere Town Council agreed to the construction of new toilet block facility on Lion Green last year.
The projected total cost of the work is £140,000 and residents and councillors expected the toilets to be completed in March of this year. But thanks to the concrete base for the £140,000 toilets being laid in the wrong place by the groundwork contractors, and delayed material delivery, the toilets are still not open.
When the hole for the new base was dug, it filled with water and Joe Poulter – a disgruntled resident fed up with the delays, the toilet’s appearance and location – tacked a sign to the metal fencing which read: “Shottermill Lido opening 2028: Conservatives know how to waste your money.”
Another resident, who wished to remain anonymous , then added it to Google Maps and the Haslemere Lido was born.
But despite the humour, many residents are furious with the Lib Dem-led (not Tory-led) council.
Joe Poulter, who has lived in Shottermill for 73 years, does not deny that Lion Green needs toilet facilities. The site is often used for events like Oktoberfest and fairgrounds, and with no public toilets people have been reported to use the nearby pub, or even the bushes.
What Joe does object to is the “eyesore” design and its location.
“The toilets are surrounded by free roads. When children need the loo they don’t think about roads or cars they just run to the toilet, and the road into the M&S is always really busy. It is just plain dangerous,” he said.
Max Hogan, owner of The Apple Tree Pub had plans to sell but said thanks to the toilet block, he can’t. The toilets are located in the green at the front of his pub.
He said: “Nobody in their right mind would buy a pub with that as the view. It is an eyesore and it is offensive.”
Max said when the council first sent around the plans he didn’t object because he believed the toilets would be wood-clad and wanted the facilities to stop people using the pub toilets.
In a statement to the Herald, Haslemere Town Council thanked residents for their patience and explained the project should have been completed in late spring.
It is “really unfortunate” they have been let down on a number of occasions by the appointed contractor, the council added.
But it has now been made clear to the contractor that the council is not prepared to accept further unnecessary delays, and the spokesperson said they are “very hopeful” the contract will now be completed in good time.