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Success in Northern Ireland

Story taken from Ulster Star 10/09/04 - Copyright Ulster Star

LISBURN Council’s Leisure Services Committee this week sensationally voted to overturn controversial regulations that limit the number of young children parents can take to the swimming pool at the Lagan Valley LeisurePlex. Since legal advice received earlier this year, the LeisurePlex has been operating arrangements that mean a strict ratio of one parent to one child applies to the admission of children up to three years old.

But Adrienne Bell, a spokesperson for the UK ‘Right to Swim’ group, made a presentation at Tuesday night’s Leisure Services meeting and outlined why the admission policy is unfair on families.

As the arrangements stand, a family will be turned away if just one parent accompanies two children, if one of them is under the age of four.

A less stringent regulation of two children to one parent applies for children between four and seven years old. However, a parent with three children between four and seven is also refused admission. Following the presentation DUP Councillor Jonathan Craig proposed the council disregard the guidelines and he was seconded by Seamus Close of Alliance.

The committee voted 6-4 in favour of Mr. Craig’s proposal. But the arrangement has still to be ratified by the full council at the end of the month and no changes will be made until then. "I welcome the fact the Leisure Services Committee have seen sense with this policy," said Mr. Craig.

"All the councillors on the committee have received numerous complaints about this and personally I’ve seen people turned away from the pool and their children in tears.

"For someone to label this a health and safety issue is misleading the public. The reality is that health and safety at the LeisurePlex is second to none and we don’t need draconian measures like this.

"Parents are more than capable of looking after their children and if not, then we have excellent fully-qualified staff to look after them." Mr. Craig pointed out there are no restrictions in place at swimming pools in Banbridge, Belfast and Antrim.

"These measures were introduced in Belfast and within a few months they were reversed after the shocking and adverse reaction they received," he added.

"My wife can’t take our two children to Lagan Valley LeisurePlex but she can bring them to Banbridge, Antrim or any pool in Belfast. What can be more absurd than that?" Mr. Close said the vote had been a ‘clear demonstration’ of the feeling among Leisure Services measures.

"I hope that common sense now spreads through the council," he said. "I hope Lisburn council will stop discriminating against its ratepayers and against single parents.

"This policy is a total nonsense. We shouldn’t become a nation of wimps regarding our children, wrapping them in cotton wool and mollycoddling them. The way things are going, children going to play football will have to dress up like Michelin men in case they damage themselves."

If you feel strongly about this issue or if it has affected you, then please contact us to get involved with events.



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