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Region wants pool fencing rules changed

May 14, 2004

Region wants pool fencing rules changed

A review of the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 (FOSP) is one step closer after regional elected members backed North Shore City Mayor George Wood's call to change the law.

At last week's Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) Zone 1 Committee, held in Takapuna, elected members from across the region agreed to ask the government to take another look at the legislation.

Mayor Wood says he appreciates the support to review what he describes as an ambiguous law.

"The legislation has proved confusing for everyone including pool owners, designers, builders, industry groups and pool fencing officers."

A remit will now be taken to LGNZ and should be considered at its next annual general meeting in July.

If the remit is passed it will go forward to the government for its consideration.

"When a great proportion of local authorities, as well as the public, keep on telling you this doesn't work something has to be done.

"This is an issue of national importance and must be addressed soon," Mayor Wood says.

Clarification would be sought on issues such as the legitimacy of lockable spa pool covers, a clear definition of the immediate pool area, the situation where doors from the house directly enter the pool area and the interaction between FOSP, the building code and the Building Act.

The FOSP was introduced in 1987 as an attempt to reduce the number of pre-school drownings in home swimming pools.

Two recent determinations from the Building Industry Authority (BIA) have had a significant impact on pool fencing approvals and their interpretation.

The new interpretations mean that lockable spa covers are no longer acceptable as an alternative to compliant pool fencing, and that it is no longer acceptable to have doors from the house entering the immediate pool area unless it is a confined area and access is restricted.

"Due to the new BIA interpretations, local authorities are now left to decipher the existing legislation in different ways.

"The intent of the changes is to keep young children safe, but creates confusion for people who previously complied and now find they don't.

"The legislation has proved controversial and difficult to enforce since its inception. Parts of it are unclear and its current association with the Building Act is confusing.

"There are two Acts of Parliament that deal with pools, the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act and the Building Act. This has caused confusion and frustration for the local authorities who are required to enforce the rules and pool owners who need to follow them.

"A review will end the confusion for everyone, and put a stop to some unclear interpretations that have been highlighted by the media recently," George Wood says.

ENDS

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