District pools not changing ratios

MICHELE ONG
Last updated 05:00 28/01/2014
Methanex Bell Block Aquatic Centre pool manager Mike Fox
ROBERT CHARLES/Fairfax NZ
PARENTAL CARE: Methanex Bell Block Aquatic Centre pool manager Mike Fox says parents are responsible for the safety of their children.

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Other Taranaki pools will not be following New Plymouth in introducing stricter adult:child ratios.

The privately operated Methanex Bell Block Aquatic Centre, and Stratford and South Taranaki district councils are continuing their standard water safety regulations, which do not impose a stringent adult:child ratio.

Bell Block pool manager Mike Fox said he understood where the New Plymouth District Council was coming from with its new regulations.

While he believed some of the ratios were "too tough", he was not criticising the council.

Under New Plymouth's new ratio requirement, a family with a child under 12 months old and a child under 2 years old would require two adult supervisors at the city's Todd Energy Aquatic Centre.

Bell Block requires parents or caregivers to actively supervise their charges under 8 years old.

Mr Fox said the key words were "actively supervise", but there were still parents reading magazines, texting or looking at their iPads instead of watching their children.

He said there were no plans to change the current pool regulations or put a ratio in place.

"However, if an adult turns up with a dozen under-8s we'll say no," he said.

If an adult shows up with three or four children, they are asked to keep them together in a group.

Mr Fox said there had been instances of adults leaving their charges to romp in the water while they headed off somewhere.

Last week a mother dropped off her two children, aged 3 and 6, then went to the local bar.

"Our lifeguard had to ask the children where their mum was and tracked her down to look after her kids," Mr Fox said.

A father had done the same thing some years ago.

Stratford's TSB Pool Complex manager Andrea Wilkie said adults entering the pools with under 8s were not charged an entry fee.

This was to encourage parents to be in the water with their child rather than sit at the poolside.

Extra staff are rostered during the holidays to keep an eye on children over 8 years old left on their own.

"We have four staff on, instead of two," Ms Wilkie said.

The Stratford council has no plans to change its current policy.

South Taranaki District Council aquatic services manager Dave Lee said standard water safety regulations were observed at both the Hawera Aquatic Centre and the council's rural pools.

The council 's pool policy is consistent with Water Safety New Zealand and the New Zealand Recreation Association's Pool Alone policies.

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New Plymouth deputy mayor Heather Dodunski said the ratio issue was difficult.

"I sympathise with mothers with three or four children and have nobody to help you."

But the council would bear the "full brunt" of the community's anger if a child drowned in its pools, Mrs Dodunski said.

Editorial: Page 8

- © Fairfax NZ News

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