Swimmers face action for defying ban

DETERMINED residents have vowed to continue defying a ban preventing them from plunging into a new ornamental lake to cool down this summer.Keen swimmers in Maldon enjoyed a dip in the pool in Promenade Park over the weekend and have now publicly stated their intention to carry on swimming there.

DETERMINED residents have vowed to continue defying a ban preventing them from plunging into a new ornamental lake to cool down this summer.

Keen swimmers in Maldon enjoyed a dip in the pool in Promenade Park over the weekend and have now publicly stated their intention to carry on swimming there.

But, due to health and safety issues after the death of swimmer, Maldon District Council remains adamant the lake cannot be used for swimming again.

Although he did not organise the swimming protest, Bob Wyness, chairman of the Swim at the Prom and Friends of the Prom committees, said: “I have heard that people have been swimming here already this year and I'm sure they will do so again.


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“I'm delighted that they have taken the initiative to swim at their own risk.”

The committees have called for the introduction of 'swimming at your own risk' in the past, which was granted by a High Court ruling for a similar situation involving Hampstead Heath Winter Swimming Club and the City of London Corporation.

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On Saturday six women and a child entered the lake as a new protest against the council's decision. In a joint statement they said: “It's ridiculous that in this heatwave there is nowhere for people to cool down and swim.

“We've had a right to swim here since 1905 and I don't see why we should be prevented by council stupidity.”

Steve Watson, chief executive of the council, said: “I am aware that a small minority of residents decided to hold a minor protest by swimming in the ornamental lake at Promenade Park last Saturday. I do hope this was an isolated incident and that commonsense will prevail.

“All visitors and residents must understand that the council had no option but to ban swimming from the lake following the health and safety executive investigation into the tragic death of a member of the public in 2002.

“I am extremely disappointed that we have a few irresponsible residents that seem unable to understand this message and are now putting themselves and their children and council officers at risk.”

He said the council would continue to enforce the byelaw preventing swimming in the pool. Anyone issued with a penalty notice can face a fine of up to £20.

The lake, which has been closed to swimmers since the death of 47-year-old Kevin Gay in 2002, has been at the centre of bitter dispute.

Mr Gay, from Shoeburyness, attempted to swim under a line of buoys but collided with a submerged post concealed about three inches below the surface.

After the incident, the council, which owns the lake, was ordered to pay £200,000 in fines and legal costs after a health and safety prosecution.

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