Mother’s row over pool rules

The Reed family
The Reed family

A MOTHER was left dumbfounded after being told she could not take her two children to the local swimming pool because of supervision issues.

Claire Reed, of Wilberfoss, wanted to take her five-year-old daughter Isabelle and two-year-old son Oliver to the swimming pool at Francis Scaife Sports Centre in Pocklington but was declined entry because of policy set by East Riding Council.

She was told there needs to be a 1:1 ratio of adults to children under the age of nine.

Mrs Reed said the policy was “unrealistic” and believes it should be up to the parent to decide whether they feel capable of supervising more than one child.

The 33-year-old said: “Unfortunately I was declined entry because of what I believe is an unrealistic and inflexible council policy.

“Isabelle has been going to swimming lessons since she was three-years-old and is a good swimmer. I did not sign her up to this term’s swimming lessons as Oliver was frustrated watching her from the poolside. He wanted to be in the water too.

“Giving it no further thought I believed I could take my children swimming myself and therefore neither child needed to miss out.

“I had flotation aids for both of my children, the pool is very small, there is a life guard on duty and I am confident in the water. Rather naively I believed that as a parent I had the right to decide whether or not I could be responsible for my own children and therefore take them swimming.”

Mrs Reed also feels that the council policy counteracts the Government’s drive to promote healthy living.

She said: “What really frustrates me is that we have serious health issues in this country brought about by poor diet and lack of exercise which the government is trying to address by promoting healthy living.

“In which case, why has it made impossible for me to take my children to a council-run swimming pool so that we can exercise and have fun together?”

Darren Stevens, head of culture and information at East Riding Council, argues that this approach is used in most parts of the country.

He said: “Our policy regarding the number of children who can be supervised by one adult differs between leisure centres in the East Riding depending on whether the swimming complex has just a main pool or also a learner pool.

“Francis Scaife only has a main pool and therefore means that all children under the age of eight must be supervised at all times during their swim by an adult, aged 16 or older, in the water with them.

“This approach is consistent with what happens in most parts of the country and is based on guidance issued by the Institute of Sport and Recreation Management in conjunction with the Health & Safety Executive and the Royal Lifesaving Society.

“The council wants as many children as possible to swim but must ensure that this is done in a clean and safe bathing environment with good supervision provided.”