Child abuse ‘hysteria’ closes pool’s sauna

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Users of Spalding swimming pool are furious they have been barred from the sauna during school lessons for fear they are paedophiles.

It is believed the decision to make the sauna out of bounds while classes of young children are in the pool has been taken after a complaint from a teacher.

But Castle Sports Complex members have said the move is the “last straw”, after previous complaints of inconsistent water temperatures and filthy and unhygienic changing rooms.

For many years the sauna has been available from 7.30am to 10pm, but members say they have now been told they cannot use it between 9.30am and noon while school swimming lessons are in progress.

One member, who did not wish to be named, said they had been told by Leisure Connection, which is contracted by the district council to run the pool, that it had reviewed its arrangements with the schools and made an error in offering the sauna while children were on the premises.

He said: “This is the last straw. The facilities have been curtailed because of hysteria whipped up over child abuse.”

Coun Nick Worth, South Holland District Council portfolio holder for child safeguarding, said as far as he was aware there was no reason the sauna should be closed, as having adults inside was no different from allowing adults in the pool’s viewing area.

Regular pool users said news the sauna was to be closed at certain times followed a “shocking” incident in which one regular swimmer was singled out and quizzed by pool staff because he and his friends used the sauna while children were in the pool.

One said: “The teaching staff apparently objected to their presence and he was asked not to use the sauna on that morning while the complaining teacher and her children were in the pool.

“There was no objection to him using the sauna on any other weekday and none of his friends were asked not to use the sauna.

“He refused to give up his right to use the sauna as a paying member and due to his refusal the new times have been invoked.”

Another member said the men’s changing rooms often have young girls walking through and even showering naked.

He added: “It’s not good enough, yet we have to put up with it. Female members have had similar experiences of having to cover up swiftly because boys enter their changing area.

“When you complain no one listens to the members who pay good money during the year. Are we going to see a reduction in membership fees because of this?”

A spokesman for the swimming pool’s management said: “We can confirm that the sauna at Castle Swimming Pool is now closed to the public when school swimming lessons are taking place during morning sessions subject to further consultation with South Holland District Council and stakeholders.”