A Chilcott’s Grass man had a $550 fine for leaving his swimming pool gate open increased to $2,000 after he challenged it in Lismore Local Court.
The NSW Swimming Pools Act requires all pool owners and occupiers to ensure that gates and other access to pools are kept securely closed when not in use.
Hayden Hamshaw of Chilcotts Grass elected to challenge a $550 fine issued by Lismore City Council earlier this year for failing to ensure that the gates to his pool were kept closed when not in use. He was recently convicted and fined $2,000 by Local Court Magistrate Heilpern and was also ordered to pay Council’s legal costs of $784.
In reaching the above decision, Magistrate Heilpern noted that Mr Hamshaw’s actions in not complying with the pool fencing and access laws were ‘flagrant, blatant and deliberate’.
Lismore City Council’s development and compliance manager, Peter Jeuken, said the case demonstrated how important it is to comply with the law, not just to avoid a fine but to ensure children’s safety. Every year an average of 33 Australian children under the age of five drown.
‘Failing to properly maintain swimming pool fencing and restrict access to a pool are serious matters and Council has an obligation to exercise its regulatory responsibilities for swimming pool fencing to ensure the safety of vulnerable people in our community,’ Mr Jeuken said.
‘The outcome in this matter highlights the importance of cooperating with Council in relation to compliance matters to avoid fines in the first place and the possibility of higher penalties if Court proceedings are commenced.’
Owners urged to register
Owners of swimming pools in NSW are being urged to register their swimming pools online prior to 29 October this year to avoid the possibility of a $220 fine.
Under new laws that commenced in April, pool owners are required to register their backyard swimming pools in an online register provided by the NSW government. The register will promote pool safety and pool compliance in an attempt to reduce the number of deaths and injuries to children in backyard swimming pools in NSW.
The register provides pool owners with pool safety checklists to help them self-assess their pool’s safety. Pool owners will be asked to indicate that, to the best of their knowledge, their swimming pool complies with the standard applicable to their pool.
Visit the register at www.swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au and follow the easy registration steps. Swimming pool registration is free. If you can’t access the online register, Council can register on your behalf (a fee of up to $10 may apply). Phone 1300 878 387.