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Councillors will lobby for pool law change

December 2, 2004

Councillors will lobby for pool law change

North Shore City Council is continuing to push for a review of the legislation governing the fencing of swimming pools.

Councillors Julia Parfitt and Heather Brown will work with council staff in seeking the support of local MPs, the council's regulatory committee has decided.

North Shore City has been leading calls for a change to the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 (FOSP), which it describes as ambiguous and difficult to enforce.

A legal judgement in August by Justice Tony Randerson, highlighted the inconsistency between the FOSP Act and the Building Code, and the need for a legislative review.

Committee chairperson, Callum Blair, says political pressure is now required to bring about a change.

"The legislation is confusing for everyone, including pool owners, designers, builders, industry groups and local authorities," he says.

"All agree something needs to be done and the sooner the better. It's an issue of national importance and deserves the full attention of central government."

Local authorities are united in their support for a law change. Local Government New Zealand, at its annual conference in July, unanimously endorsed a remit by North Shore City Mayor George Wood, calling for a review.

Clarification is 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 open onto the pool area, and the relationship between the FOSP Act and the Building Act.

Interpretation of the FOSP Act has varied from council to council.

Waitakere City sought the recent ruling after 200 ratepayers refused to install fences.

The judgement goes some way to defining the immediate pool area, allowing for such uses as barbecues and entertaining within the immediate vicinity of the pool, provided those activities are closely connected with the use of the pool.

To promote a consistent interpretation of the legislation relating to swimming pools, Waitakere City is now hosting meetings with representatives from other councils in the Auckland region.

The subject will also be a priority for discussion at this week's conference (December 2) on pool safety in Wellington, being run by national water safety agency, Water Safety New Zealand.

Until the law becomes clear, North Shore City will adopt a flexible approach to policing the pool fencing rules, says Councillor Blair.

"That could mean there are a lot of exemptions, because that way we can impose conditions and ensure safety, while assessing each case on its merits."

ENDS

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