Free pool day was swell, despite claims

By Don Farmer don.farmer@age.co.nz -
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Allegations of unruly behaviour at Masterton's outdoor pools have been refuted. PHOTO/FILE
Allegations of unruly behaviour at Masterton's outdoor pools have been refuted. PHOTO/FILE

A free swimming programme at Masterton's outdoor pools during most of January has been defended by those involved in overseeing it despite allegations of unruly behaviour and parents abusing the privilege.

Callers to the Times-Age spoke of seeing fights and alleged some parents were dumping off children, using the free days as a chance to get children looked after without having to pay.

There was also an allegation some parents arriving to pick up children were obviously the worse for wear from drinking alcohol before collecting their youngsters.

When asked to comment, pools facility manager Kieran Te Whare said feedback from staff at a debrief was that all were happy with how the free programme had gone.

Mr Te Whare said it had been regarded as being successful.

"As always with these projects, there were some challenges and we identified ways to overcome some of them in the future.

"We had one occasion where two children were left at the facility for the day and we had to contact parents to pick them up.

"The mother came smelling of alcohol, but she was not driving a vehicle," Mr Te Whare said.

He said staff had to call police on one occasion when a fight broke out "so the perpetrators could be removed from the site" but that in general people were "extremely well behaved".

Police did regular walk-throughs "as they do throughout town at busy times" and during one visit had to diffuse a "situation which was taking place outside on the pavement".

"Apart from these isolated incidents, it was a successful initiative and we look forward to supporting it again in 2017," Mr Te Whare said.

The free days, sponsored by the district council, CLM and Lands Trust Masterton, spanned January 5 to 28.

Masterton mayor Lyn Patterson said it was the third year that free access to the pools had been offered.

"Everyone involved agrees it was the most successful so far.

"We have had plenty of positive feedback and some useful suggestions of how it can be improved in future.

"I spent a great afternoon there with my grandchildren and it was fantastic to see so many people having fun and enjoying the facility," she said.

Figures collated during the free swim period show 5193 visits were made with the daily average being 216. The busiest day was Saturday, January 23, when 495 people took advantage of the free day.

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