Bid to overturn lake swimming ban

A CAMPAIGN has been launched to reintroduce public swimming at a lake in Maldon where a man died.Bob Wyness, chairman of the Swim at the Prom Committee, claimed that recent legal cases have indicated that landowners' liability for what people do on their property was more limited than before.

By Roddy Ashworth

A CAMPAIGN has been launched to reintroduce public swimming at a lake in Maldon where a man died.

Bob Wyness, chairman of the Swim at the Prom Committee, claimed that recent legal cases have indicated that landowners' liability for what people do on their property was more limited than before.

In August 2002, a man was killed when he jumped into the lake and hit his head on a submerged post in the Marine Lake in Promenade Park, Maldon.


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As a result of that, Maldon District Council, which owns the facility, was ordered to pay £200,000 in fines and legal costs in a health and safety prosecution.

Since then swimming has been banned and, in a move unpopular with many last year, the council voted to turn the water feature into an ornamental lake with a play area nearby.

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Members had been advised by health and safety experts and council officers that to meet the stringent regulations needed for public swimming would prove prohibitively expensive.

But Mr Wyness believes that following precedents set by recent legal cases - one involving Hampstead Heath Winter Swimming Club and the City of London Corporation - the Maldon lake could be established as a “swim at your own risk” facility.

He launched the Swim at the Prom campaign on Friday evening at the Little Ship Club on the Hythe in Maldon.

“As you may well recollect, there was a substantial public outcry when the marine lake was closed,” he said, adding that similar facilities across the country had also been forced to ban swimmers.

“Swim at the Prom believes that the recent legal redefining of responsibilities for health and safety has opened the door for swimming to be continued or restarted in many of these places, and Maldon has the need to do this as well as being able to lead the way in doing so.”

Yesterday, however, Bob Boyce, leader of Maldon District Council, said Mr Wyness had invited him to the launch but he had declined to attend.

“The council came to a decision on health and safety grounds to change the lake from a swimming lake to an ornamental lake - that was the decision.

“Although what the council does in years to come is dependent on circumstances at the time, there was a good reason to make the decision.

“The council also decided to spend a lot of money on the lake and compensate for the swimming by introducing an expensive water feature which will enhance the area for visitors to the prom.”

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