Diana fountain entrenched in setbacks

Last updated at 16:13 17 December 2004

With all its problems, the Diana Memorial Fountain is fast becoming an apt metaphor for the troubled life of the Princess of Wales.

The landscape surrounding the ring of water in London's Hyde Park is sodden and a sorry sight while officials decide how to rescue the project.

A trench has now been dug to investigate drainage, ahead of restoration work due to begin in the New Year.

"The area is fenced off and the hole is being filled in today, but the fountain is still open to the public," said a Royal Parks spokesman.

"We plan to returf - anything else would require planning permission."

The £3.6-million granite fountain, designed by Kathryn Gustafson, was intended to be a "tranquil, peaceful and calm" memorial to the late Princess.

Opened by the Queen in July, it has been plagued by problems.

It became blocked by fallen leaves, then suffered a broken pump and was later closed after visitors slipped over while paddling.

The area around the fountain turned into a mud-bath and a non-slip, green plastic carpet was put down.

However, the plastic matting became clogged with pools of slippery mud.