Blitz is a council revenue raising exercise, says pool owner

A BLITZ on backyard pools that nets thousands of dollars for the City of Ryde and other councils has triggered demands by a councillor and pool owners for a public forum on pool compliance laws and inspections.

Ryde Clr Roy Maggio has called for the forum amid complaints from local pool owners that his council’s pool inspection blitz is a revenue raising exercise that charges a statutory fee $150 for an inspection and a further $100 for each follow up inspection.
He said he is also concerned by pool owner reports that around 90 per cent of inspected pools in Ryde have failed and pool owners are required to spend thousands of dollars to meet compliance rules.
“I recognise that our inspectors are enforcing state government laws on pool safety compliance as they are required to do under a government Act and every pool owner I’ve met understands the importance of pool safety,” he said.
“All of us want to prevent a child from drowning but when you get complaints from pool owners about the council’s pool inspection policy then something is not right when it should be.
“My concern is that the message our pool inspections are sending out to our community is not one about the importance of supervising children around pools but comes across as one wholly preoccupied with enforcing compliance and charging a fee for it.”
Pool owner Stephen Deane from Kellaway Street in East Ryde has a backyard pool that recently failed a compliance inspection due to a garden near a fence.
He questioned why he is being hit with hundreds of dollars in council inspection fees and further costs to make his pool compliant.
“It appears to me that the specific wording of the regulations and their intent to stop ingress to the pool from outside is having a very liberal interpretation at the hands of Council and one could also conclude that this interpretation is aimed at revenue raising,” he said
Mr Deane said he supports Clr Maggio’s view.
“The preoccupation with pool fencing only leads to a false sense of security for those who do not take personal responsibility for those children they are looking after.’’
Councillor Maggio said most pool owners did not know they have an alternative to paying an inspection fee to the council.
“Pool owners have a right to have their pool independently assessed by a private certifier and I don’t believe this council is fully informing pool owners of their rights,” he said.
Councillor Maggio said the government’s pool legislation has exemptions for pools built during or before the 1980s and it is unfair to hit them with retrospective action.
Mr Deane made this point in his letter to the council.
“When the pool was built in 1986 we met all necessary safety requirements, and when we undertook a Council approved house renovation in 2000, we updated to the requirements at the time.
“I believe it is totally improper and unreasonable to again apply retrospectively the current regulations, simply because we have made genuine attempts to maintain our property to safe and practical standards.
“This is the very reason that the regulations have various categories based on build date.”
Councillor Maggio wants the council to send letters to pool owners about their rights.
“Any letter provided to residents on swimming pool barrier inspections must clearly identify it is a choice of the residents to engage either council or private certifiers,” he said.