A COUPLE who charge kids to use their pool have been ordered to shut it down over complaints of shrieks and mermaid parties.
Andrew and Richelle Brooks started running lessons in the garden of their Hamps. home in 2021, and have had instructors teaching youngsters to swim ever since.
But their neighbours say they have been enduring a “cacophony of noise” ever since – including “singing, whooping and screaming”.
They claim this has stopped them enjoying their own gardens – and even say it’s disrupting their studies and sleep.
The council has now told the Brooks they have to shut the Little Otters Swim School down as they should never have been running lessons through from there to begin with.
Richelle, Andrew and their three sons would throw mermaid parties, but say they were forced to stop after the neighbours complained.
The family argue that they found it “unfathomable” the neighbours were complaining as they hadn’t been affected “at all”.
The Winchester City Council Planning Committee was told that swimming lessons were taking place Monday to Wednesday from 9.30am to 11.30am and 3.30pm to 7pm.
There were also classes on Thursdays – with four children at a time and each lesson lasting 30 minutes.
There were 23 comments in support of the application – but it was revealed swim class users, not neighbours.
Ten of those submitters didn’t even live in the village.
Richelle argued that they were doing the community a service.
MailOnline reported she told the meeting: “No other swim school locally which offers what we do.
“We’re providing a valuable to the community, promoting active healthy kids, creating jobs, paying taxes, supporting charities and we are positively contributing to society.
“Whilst we regret that our closest neighbours are disturbed by the use of the pool we understand they have encouraged other local residents to object despite the fact that the use does not in any significant way impact upon them.
“I’m sure they are also disturbed by our private use with our own three young sons, which is frequent and particularly during the summer months when our neighbours are most likely to be using their garden.”
Richelle said that it was likely the previous owners of the home hadn’t used the pool often, so any noise coming from the pool would be a contrast.
‘CACOPHONY OF NOISE’
She continued: “That disturbance is purely a matter of subjective opinion.
“For people to say their lives are ruined by the noise in their own homes is unfathomable to me because we live in the home where these lessons are conducted from and we’re not disturbed at all – it’s just a little bit unreasonable.”
Dr Adelaide Morris lives just one metre from the pool and said her families’ lives had been “severely disturbed by a cacophony of noise”.
She told the meeting: “I live to the right of the swimming pool. Those of us neighbours either side of the school suffer stress due to noise.
“Singing, whooping, screaming from instructors, carers and children – worse still when the roof is retracted.
“Our normal lives cannot continue until the lessons end.”
Another neighbour, James Newman-Carter, said the noise had distracted him as he tried to study for his A-Levels – even with his windows closed.
He said: “Due to my timetable, despite not having to get up early on some days I was never able to take advantage of this, as I was routinely woken up by the singing of nursery rhymes, raised voices shouting instructions or encouragement and children crying.”
Chair of Colden Common Parish Council, councillor Maggie Hill, told the meeting: “Constant loud shrieking, shouting, singing – so [they] have been unable to enjoy the amenities of their home or garden or relax because of the volume of noise.
“In hot weather the noise is even greater when the pool cover is retracted.
“Neighbours on both sides are unable to read in their garden, study inside their houses or sleep when on night shifts.”
She added that people often hired the swim school out on weekends for private events, too – as well as more lessons being held.
The councillor added: “This is not an essential business for the area, there are six others within a five-mile radius.”
Rejecting the application committee member councillor Michael Read said: “Children must be given the opportunity to swim.
“However, in this particular case we are in a residential area, it is very close to a neighbouring property and the noise levels could be such that it becomes a real nuisance.”
The Sun has contacted the Brooks for further comment.