††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 1O DOWNING STREET††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††





27 January 2005



Dear Ms Warner



I promised when we met in Kent that I would write back to you about the concerns you raised about swimming with your children.As you may have heard from Prime Ministerís Questions yesterday, I have not forgotten what you said and would like to thank you for bringing it to my attention.


I have looked into the new rules and fully agree with you that, while they were undoubtedly brought in with the very best of intentions, their practical effect is to prevent parents taking their young children swimming.And that, as I said in the Commons yesterday, must be a nonsense.


It looks as if the problems stem from some local authorities applying guidance from the Institute of Sport and Recreation Management (ISRM) without the flexibility that was intended.The ISRM recommendation is that adults should supervise no more than two children aged under eight and no more than one under four.But it also specifically says there should be flexibility particularly, for instance, if the children are wearing water wings, they can already swim, are in a safer area of water such as shallower pools or taking part in special supervised sessions.

It is, of course, right that our primary concern must be the safety of children.But itís also the case that we use commonsense in applying rules.I agree with you that we need to place more trust in the judgement of parents and not stifle peopleís natural enthusiasm for swimming.


So I have asked Tessa Jowell, who you may know is the Culture Secretary, to call an urgent meeting with all concerned which includes the ISRM, Health and Safety Executive and the Local Government Association to find a way to ensure that guidance is applied in the flexible and commonsense way in which it was intended.†† I hope you donít mind but I have also asked her to invite you, as a representative of the Right to Swim organisation, to those talks.


I promise that I share your determination to find a commonsense solution which both protects children and allows them to go swimming with their parents. Swimming is a fantastic sport and we must do all that we can to encourage children to take it up and for families to make full use of their local facilities.


Thank you again for bringing this to my attention.Iíll continue to keep a close eye on the progress that is being made.But please do not hesitate to contact me again.









Ms Carolyn Warner