Swimmers upset by pool closures

Beacon Leisure Centre, Burntisland
Beacon Leisure Centre, Burntisland
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Burntisland’s swimming pool has been forced to close 15 times this year because of people defecating in the water.

And the regularity of the problem is upsetting regular swimmers who say something needs to be done to tackle it.

However, Fife Sports and Leisure Trust, which manages the facility, says it is an issue that’s difficult to take action on and all it can do is advise people.

One woman, who swims at the Beacon with friends at least once a week, said: “The pool has been closed on countless occasions over the past few months because of people defecating in it. Each time this happens, the pool has to be closed for around 36 hours while they go through a decontamination process.

“As you can imagine this is very off-putting to us regular swimmers. Apart from the hygiene issue, it is an inconvenience to turn up for a swim only to find the pool closed yet gain because of another incidence.

“Fife Leisure Trust urges people to purchase pool nappies for small children, but this is only advisory.

Surely the time has come to make this a condition of entering the pool. If the problem is being caused by other age groups, it must address this too.”

The issue has been raised on several occasions at Burntisland Community Council, and chairman Alex MacDonald said he had met with the chief executive of the trust to discuss the problem.

“What has happened is that over the past few years the method of dealing with such contamination of all swimming pools has become much more rigorous and the trust now works with the NHS, which issues advice on ensuring that the water is top quality.

“This now means that when an incident occurs the water must go through six full cycle changes to ensure it is completely clean.

“I sympathise with the trust as it is costly if a pool has to close. It is not just children who cause this, and all the trust can do is offer advice to parents and other pool users.”

A spokesman for the trust said: “Fife Sports and Leisure Trust is taking every effort to inform pool users of simple hygiene procedures to minimise the incidents of pool contamination – these include public notices around the centre, communication with local community councils and local advertising.

“The number of pool closures is highly regrettable for both the trust and customers and is something it would prefer to avoid if at all possible. However, the trust is also committed to public health safety and cannot allow users to swim in water that is contaminated and must, therefore, take appropriate back washing and disinfection procedures before opening the pool for public use.

“The decision to close the pool during a contamination incident is done within the recognised national health and safety guidelines for treating contamination and minimising risk to the public.

“Staff at the Beacon actively encourage the use of swimming nappies, however their use is not enforceable. Swimming nappies are made readily available for a discounted rate in all sizes.

“The trust would like to remind all users of its pools to adhere to simple hygiene procedures, this includes the use of swim nappies for three-year-olds and under, not to swim if you have diarrhoea, or have had it in the past two weeks, do not swim if you have a tummy upset and ensure children are taken to the toilet before entering the water.”