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I touched a bit of a nerve with last week’s Insights piece on loopy regulations and the swimming pool police. It sounds like my experience in Christchurch was pretty tame as compared to what a lot of others experience. There is even a Pool Owners Action Group pressing for more sensible regulation.

Many councils seem to be making it impossible to use your pool in any reasonable way, or at least according to my correspondents. Ultimately, Councils seem to be pushing for the smallest possible “immediate pool area”, with everything else outside of the fenced area – so you wouldn’t be able to have a fenced off pool area that includes a BBQ and picnic table for a pool party.

While the proposed legislation will make things easier for some spa pool owners, and can make some of the fencing requirements easier, there are still messes in there. Mandating self-closing doors on in-house pools or alarms that sound if a door’s propped open can make actual pool-use worse. If you have older kids who are competent swimmers, and a pool that opens off the lounge, propping the door open to keep an eye on them makes things safer.

It also seems exceptionally worrying that Councils should be able to, on no notice at all, demand access to an in-house pool for an inspection. Yes, providing notice means that some owners will fix long-standing faults, and others might remove workarounds they had put in place to make the pool useful despite safety regulations, but it really does not seem reasonable to require Council access to someone’s home simply because they have a pool. Police at least need a warrant unless they’ve probable cause to expect that a crime is in progress. Is Council’s position really that pool owners should have fewer rights than criminals?

I wonder whether Councils worry they could be found liable for deaths if they’re not rigorous enough in making it hard to use a swimming pool. Perhaps Parliament making liability very clear could go some way to solving things.

One reader email is copied below:

I appreciated your reference to pool fencing inspections as Loopy Regulation in your article in the latest edition of Insights.  The ‘Building (Pools) Amendment Bill’ which received its first reading last week was to be the long-promised relief started under Maurice Williamson.  Unfortunately it’s been watered down and is itself about as shallow as the wading pools it will eventually exempt from fencing.

Exactly such silly injustices, some small, others seriously unfair, are still happening in Auckland.  The new legislation does drop several of the most outlandish aspects of the old Pool Fencing Act, like the fencing of  (shallow) inflatable wading pools, and Kiwiblog even gave the bill an up-tick.  (Common sense on spa pools)   But deeper reading reveals there is much less substance than Nick Smith’s press release would seem to indicate.

To some who have been resisting the illogic of the Pool Stasi for years this effort from MBIE promises to be no better and quite possibly worse than what we had before.


About Eric Crampton (88 Articles)
I'm Head of Research with the New Zealand Initiative.

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