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Call for investigation into swimming pool safety

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43 accidents reported in three months and maintenance issues still a concern at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham

A THATCHAM town councillor is pushing for further investigation into the running of the Kennet Leisure Centre, after a report disclosed 43 accidents had occurred there in three months.

Town councillor Paul Jenkins (Lib Dem, Thatcham Central), who sits on the board that oversees the running of the centre, has moved to allay people's concerns after it recently came under fire from the council and users for being poorly maintained and unclean.

He said that health and safety issues needed to be looked into otherwise people might stop using the facility altogether.

During a meeting in March, Thatcham town councillors learnt via the minutes of a report by the Kennet Leisure Centre joint advisory committee that the number of swims at the centre had dropped dramatically, and West Berkshire Council, which runs the centre in conjunction with Parkwood Leisure, confirmed that, compared to the previous year, the numbers were down by 11,500.

The committee has now reported that the centre has also had problems with a broken boiler that has led to low pool temperatures and a lack of hot water in the showers, as well as 43 accidents in the past three months.

It was also reported that the centre failed a legionella test, although Mr Jenkins said that this did not mean that the bacteria had been detected at the pool.

The district council said that high levels of bacteria were found in the water during a routine test but put this down to the fact the showers were not being used because of the lack of hot water and bacteria was building up in the shower heads.

Spokesman Phil Spray said: “Thorough legionella checks are made on a regular basis as part of a regime of checks in line with legal requirements.

“Tests carried out in June found a higher than expected level of bacteria, which was not legionella, present in the water from the showers in the male dry changing room.

“This issue was identified at a very early stage and action was taken immediately to successfully reduce the level of bacteria to a more acceptable level.”

With regards to the accidents, Mr Jenkins said that none had been serious enough to call paramedics, and therefore urged people not to stop using the pool.

He said that until more details were made available, it could be assumed that many of the accidents occurred because of wet floors.

However, he added that this still needed to be looked into in case improved maintenance could help prevent incidents.

“Boisterousness in baths occurs; that's unfortunately the rough and tough [way] of a group of children”, he said, but added: “You should not accept the fact that people will go there and occasionally slip.”

He said that he would we asking to see the accident log book at the next meeting to look into the details of each incident.

He added: “There have been fingers pointed at the maintenance, but there has been a management change and we need to give the new manager some time.”

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