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Pool rules mother has PM in her sights

PETITION: Carolyn Warner, picture with her children Aaron, six, and Kieran, 19 months. Picture: JOHN WARDLEY
PETITION: Carolyn Warner, picture with her children Aaron, six, and Kieran, 19 months. Picture: JOHN WARDLEY

A MOTHER determined to change child swimming rules at her nearest public pool is to take her campaign to Downing Street.

And an MP who challenged the “ludicrous” rules has obtained a guarantee that the Government will look into the issue.

Carolyn Warner has been campaigning to overturn the child swimming policy at Maidstone Leisure Centre for months but her battle has now gone nationwide.

Mrs Warner, of Vinters Park, Maidstone, was angry at guidelines introduced by the Institute of Sport and Recreation that urged pools to crack down on how and when children are allowed to swim.

The guidelines state that every child aged three and under must be accompanied in the water by an adult aged 16 or over on a one-to-one basis.

An adult aged 16 or over must also accompany four to seven-year-olds on a two-to-one basis.

Maidstone Leisure Centre, which is run on behalf of Maidstone Borough Council by Serco, voted to adopt the new policy in March.

Mrs Warner set up the Right To Swim Campaign after being turned away from the public pool with her children, Aaron, six, and Keiran, two.

She launched a website - www.righttoswim.co.uk - which now has more than 10,000 members nationally and even stood as a councillor to try to amend the rules. Next week, an online petition will be launched on Mrs Warner's website and she plans to take the results to the very top.

She said: "I'm not going to let this one go. I know people are boycotting Maidstone Leisure Centre and hopefully we'll get at least 10,000 signatures on the online petition and I can then take this feeling of unrest to Tony Blair.

"Councils that have brought this policy in are now starting to overturn it, for example in Harrogate it has just been thrown out. It's starting to gather momentum.”

Hugh Robertson, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, has received a promise from Sports Minister Richard Caborn that the Government will review the matter.

Mr Robertson said: “The ban is a perfect example of bureaucracy gone mad.”

It was hoped that Maidstone council would do a u-turn on the rules following the handing in of a petition to councillors in May, but so far officers have stuck to their guns.

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