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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 August, 2004, 09:08 GMT 10:08 UK
Public blamed over Diana fountain
Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain
The fountain was opened by the Queen in July
Mistreatment by the public was partly to blame for the closure of the Diana memorial fountain, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has said.

Ms Jowell, who is responsible for the 3.6m fountain in London's Hyde Park, criticised those who dropped litter in the water and let dogs paddle in it.

It was closed 10 days ago when three people were hurt as they slipped in it.

Ms Jowell did acknowledge there were problems which must be sorted out but stressed the fountain was a memorial.

She told the Sunday Telegraph the fountain should be treated in a more respectful manner when it reopens.
I don't think any responsible member of the public would want to see people allowing their dogs in it
Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell

Signs will be erected banning animals and litter, while children will be asked to paddle only in areas where the granite floor is flat, the newspaper reports.

Two adults and a child were taken to hospital last month after falling in the same place on the east side of the source pool.

An investigation has been launched and designers are considering ways to make it safer.

Ms Jowell said: "We accept that there are problems that the Royal Parks have got to sort out.

"Once these are sorted, people have got to be responsible in the way they let their children play in the fountain."

But she said the "critical issue" was that the fountain was designed as a memorial.

Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain
Two rings of flowing water are supposed to reflect Diana's life
"I don't think any responsible member of the public would want to see people allowing their dogs in it," she said.

"How can we maintain the purity of the water if some people allow their dogs to paddle?"

While investigations are being carried out the monument has been surrounded by a 7ft-high barrier.

Ms Jowell said that the majority of visitors to the fountain since its opening had behaved appropriately.

"Of the thousands of people who have enjoyed this, a small number appear to have behaved irresponsibly," she said.

"This is a place for reflection, contemplation and remembrance as well as a place for people to enjoy bringing their children."

The memorial was opened by the Queen on 6 July, when the Spencer and Windsor families came together in public for the first time since Diana's funeral.

Charles Spencer, Diana's brother, told the BBC the fountain was a memorial but the essence of his sister was that she was approachable.

"Somehow those two things have to be balanced," he told Peter Sissons on Breakfast with Frost.

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