Splash park sessions and Alban Arena box office hours could be cut back in 2024 as part of a St Albans and Harpenden budget overhaul.

Verulamium Park’s summer sprinklers will be dry for 44 weeks of the year, according to papers by St Albans City and District Council’s finance chiefs.

The move could save the Liberal Democrat-run authority £6,380 per year.

Curtains could be closed for longer at the Alban Arena and Eric Morecombe Centre box offices, which are set for reduced opening hours.

The Hertfordshire authority’s Public Realm Committee has agreed to support a total £1.53m cut to their budget – part of wider council efforts to close a £2.54m funding gap in the 2024/25 financial year.

At a meeting on Thursday, January 25, financial services manager Linda Parker told councillors altering the plans “would affect the ability to put forward a balanced budget” to the Strategy and Resources Committee later this year.

The authority must be able to balance its budget by law.

Ms Parker said after the local government finance settlement – a pot of money given to St Albans City and District Council by the Westminster government – the authority must find £2.4m in savings.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ settlement was announced in December and updated on January 24.

Ms Parker said the authority “awaits confirmation of what [the update] actually means in terms of pounds and pennies, but until that is confirmed, we need to continue with our plans to meet the budget gap”.

She added: “Unfortunately, there will be further work for years after 2024/25 to balance the budget in those subsequent years.”

Papers debated by councillors reveal authority chiefs thought about shutting Verulamium Park Splash Park altogether – saving £15,000 per year.

They also considered charging £1 per visit to the venue, to rake in £3,500.

Another option to “close all toilets” across the district could have saved £60,000 per year. These were all rejected.

The Verulamium Park Splash Park, which authority officers said is usually open for around 22 weeks each year, will instead open for eight weeks – “six weeks of the summer school holidays and a week of opening either side of that summer period”.

Stuart Fitzsimmons, assistant director of public realm, told councillors: “That’s our busiest period of time. As you can imagine, it doesn’t get a huge amount of use when kids are in school.”

Reduced box office opening hours at the Alban Arena in St Albans and the Eric Morecambe Centre in Harpenden – which opened its doors just over two years ago in October 2021 – could save the authority £10,000 per year.

Big names in comedy, including Taskmaster’s Alex Horne, 8 out of 10 Cats’ Jimmy Carr and award winning stand-up Sarah Millican, plus Sister Sledge’s Kathy Sledge are all due in St Albans throughout the next financial year.

Conservative councillor Teresa Heritage (Con, Harpenden South) said: “Thinking particularly around box office reduction, it would be a shame where we are building up a new service at the Eric Morecambe Centre and the Arena, that be cause we’re withdrawing something, they lose out on some income.”

Mr Fitzsimmons said: “If something doesn’t work, we will have to review it.”

The committee agreed to support the proposals, which must go to the cross-party full council before they are put into place.

Other plans include a charge for under 5s’ swimming sessions to bring in £54,000 per year, a look at utilities costs at leisure facilities to save £303,000, leaving Vintry Gardens in St Albans open all night to cut £14,475, and reduced maintenance of shrub beds to ease a £26,105 pressure.