Strict new rules to protect young children in Shetland’s eight main swimming pools have been withdrawn following concerns among parents and staff.
The revised admissions policy for Shetland Recreational Trust pools was due to take effect on Tuesday which would have meant that each child aged under four had to have one adult dedicated to them. Some families or single parents would no longer have been able to go swimming with their children – even in the small rural pools – without roping in extra adults.
The old rule allowing an adult to take two children under eight would only still have applied if they were both at least four years old.
Parents of six to eight year olds would also have been affected because of the scrapping of the so-called deep-end test which, if passed, entitled a child to attend pools on their own.
Parents in some parts of Shetland were notified about the changes before Easter in a leaflet from SRT.
One family which would have been hit by the new rules stopped going to the pools in recent weeks because of the impending change. They would need four adults to go with their four children under eight instead of the usual two.
However, the new regime has been halted and pool managers are looking at a more reasonable policy to bring in on 1st June instead. The proposals, which won’t apply to swimming lessons, will be put to the board of SRT for approval on 23rd May. SRT general manager James Johnston said he did not want to reveal the new proposals at this stage before he has fully considered them.
He said it had been decided to tighten up the rules after a visit by a national pool management qualification tutor who had advised that Clickimin was the only large pool in the UK that allowed youngsters in after a deep-end test.
However, it had been realised that the policy due to be implemented this week was not going to work well in practice.
Investigations into UK pools admission policy had revealed that it was “a bit of a shambles”, he said, with a variety of conflicting standards which need simplifying. He said SRT wanted to make sure it got the policy right for the public.
The withdrawn proposal stated that “children 0 to 3 years must be accompanied by a responsible adult aged 16 year or over on a ratio of 1:1”. It continued: “Children 4 to 7 years must be accompanied by a responsible adult aged 16 years or over on a 2:1 ratio.”