A children's play park has been closed for months after being washed out as it was flooded with infected water.

The Oxford park in Alexandra Road, near Botley Road, opened its doors again yesterday in the aftermath of it being flooded with dirty water in February when the local river burst its bank.

Special cleaners have been sent out to deal with the E. coli and other forms of bacteria.

This comes amid claims Thames Water was behind the sewage discharge, though the organisation is adamant this is not the water company's responsibility.

READ MORE: Oxford householders share experiences of living in LTN area

Labour councillor Susanna Pressel for the Hinksey Park ward, said: "Thames Water can't deny that most of the sewage in our streams and rivers is caused by the horrendous illegal discharges of raw sewage from their so-called treatment works.

thisisoxfordshire: Susanna Pressel.Susanna Pressel. (Image: Oxford City Council.)

"They should be the ones cleaning up our playgrounds, if they get flooded.

"I have been asking the city council to clean up and reopen the play area for months."

Ms Pressel said the ground in the park had been too soft for it to allow for earlier cleaning.

She added: "Their vehicle with the pressure-washing equipment would have caused a lot of damage to the grass. 

"What I have asked the Parks Department to find out is whether they could have put down temporary boards to reduce the damage or whether there is another solution, and what other cities and countries do in such circumstances. 

"I have also asked them to find out from our environmental health officers whether contact with the equipment in the play area did still present a risk to our children, so many months after the flooding.

"I'm told that this varies, but I want them to come and test the play equipment, next time this happens, rather than leaving the play area closed for months."

A Thames Water spokesman said: "When this flooding happened, Thames Water attended and checked our foul water system and found no evidence of discharge or pollution, and our sewer was flowing correctly.

"Our investigations concluded that the flooding was not due to a failure of our sewers.

"River health is not the sole responsibility of Thames Water and there are many factors which influence river quality and flooding.

"There are multiple sources of E-coli in watercourses throughout England including agriculture run-off, industry, misconnected properties and sewer failures."

thisisoxfordshire: Discharged sewage in Oxfordshire.Discharged sewage in Oxfordshire. (Image: Windrush Against Sewage Pollution)

Oxfordshire County Council is the lead local flood authority but it insists the levels of rain were especially high for 2024.

The council has also justified its flooding defences with cabinet member for climate change responsibility Pete Sudbury having previously said the Environment Agency, Thames Water and others had "worked extensively to manage the flood crisis".

An Oxford City Council spokesman said: "Oatlands Park was closed after the flooding as some of the play equipment was dirty. The cleaning operation had to wait until the wet ground was dry enough to allow cleaning equipment onto the site, which was the case last Sunday and Monday."

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About the author

Noor is the Local Democracy Reporter for Oxfordshire who covers political stories from across the county. 

She began working as a journalist in Oxford in September 2023 having graduated from the University of Oxford.

Noor was trained at the News Associates journalism school and can be found on X through the handle @NoorJQurashi