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Golden Coast
LATEST NEWS
CastlePoint
HSE prosecutes council over pool vent accident
A girl of seven whose hair was sucked into a swimming pool vent was saved from drowning by her great-grandfather when he tore a clump from her head.

The vent was so powerful that the schoolgirl, from Essex, was unable to pull herself free and she was only dragged away after being trapped for more than two-and-a-half minutes.

Castle Point Borough Council has been prosecuted by the HSE.

She was taken out of the pool 'limp and blue' and at first it was feared the youngster had drowned. However she eventually regained consciousness at the side of the pool.

Now, the council responsible for running the swimming pool has been told by a court it must pay more than £25,000 following the terrifying incident.

Castle Point Council, which owns and runs the Waterside Pool in Canvey Island, pleaded guilty to health and safety failings and the authority was fined £18,000 and ordered to pay £7,500 in costs.

Nicola Surrey, an inspector for the Health and Safety Executive, said after the hearing: "This incident was extremely traumatic for the young girl and her great-grandfather and it could have had far more serious consequences.

"Managed properly, swimming pools are a place for fun and exercise yet the council put pool users at risk of entrapment by not properly maintaining the water outlets."

The youngster, who has not been identified, visited the swimming pool with her 67-year-old great-grandfather on 2 May 2009, when her hair got sucked into a vent at the side of the pool, Basildon Magistrates' Court heard.

The vent was so powerful she was not able to pull her own hair out and she became trapped under water for two minutes and 36 seconds until her great-grandfather rescued her.

The safety watchdog said there were too few lifeguards on duty - of the two working one was cleaning and the other one could not see the whole pool because of the glare of the sunlight on the water.

The HSE also said the pool should have had two vents so if one got blocked the other vent would take the pressure off the suction.

Castle Point Council admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.

After the incident Castle Point Council switched off the vent, gave lifeguards extra training and increased the number of staff on duty from two to three.

Peter Burch, of the council's leisure committee, said: "We are committed to safety at our swimming pools and our investigations show that the pools continue to be safe to use.

"However, by strengthening our procedures, we are confident that an accident like this can never happen again.

"Waterside has always been a very safe pool, so this unfortunate accident involving a vent that has been used without problem for 30 years was a shock to everybody.

"We understand that it would have been a frightening experience for the girl involved and those who saw it."





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