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Swimmer loses pool battle

PUBLISHED: 21:00 27 August 2002 | UPDATED: 12:33 03 March 2010

CHANNEL swimmer Mike Read was today set to finally lose his battle to use Broomhill Pool when there are no staff on duty.

Mr Read, who has told the Star that he never swims alone but has a friend accompany him, has met with council officials who say that for him to continue swimming without staff supervision is too risky.

CHANNEL swimmer Mike Read was today set to finally lose his battle to use Broomhill Pool when there are no staff on duty.

Mr Read, who has told the Star that he never swims alone but has a friend accompany him, has met with council officials who say that for him to continue swimming without staff supervision is too risky.

Mr Read, 61, is allowed to swim at the outdoor pool in Ipswich even when it is closed to the public – but only if there is a lifeguard on site and someone to alert the lifeguard if he gets into difficulties.

He can swim for an hour and a half outside opening hours, and in a roped-off lane if the pool is open but not full to capacity.

A report to Ipswich Borough Council's executive meeting tonight , by acting head of sport and play services John Clough said: "The special arrangements … are only possible because he is a competent swimmer and medically fit."

But during an annual review of health and safety, officials found Mr Read may have been swimming outside the (allowed) times and that he had a key to the pool.

The report added: "It is not clear when or how Mr Read acquired a key to the pool…The council has a legal duty to people using its premises."

Council officers sought advice from the Health and Safety Executive which said it would be 'extremely concerned' if Mr Read was allowed to use the pool outside agreed times.

As featured in the Star earlier this month, Mr Read alleged the council was not meeting health and safety standards on issues including litter and staff behaviour, which the council denied.

Mr Read's achievements in long-distance swimming have gained him the privileges of the council's International Sports Pass scheme, which provides him with free use of public swimming and fitness facilities. The scheme is normally only available to Ipswich people, but Mr Read who lives in Sproughton served by Babergh District Council, gained the honour because of his long association with swimming in Ipswich.

More than 670 people who signed a petition to support him are to be advised of the decision, which will be noted at today's meeting.

Mr Read was unavailable for comment.

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