Extended bans and fees considered after outdoor pool closure anger
Baw Baw News By William PJ Kulich // 15:20, Friday 11 January 2013
TOUGHER punishments for misbehaving patrons at the Drouin Outdoor Pool have been announced and fees will be considered
after angry comments about the pool’s closure were left on the council’s Facebook page.
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Baw Baw Shire Director Community Care and Strengthening Liana Thompson told The Warragul Citizen the original one-month ban for three youth involved in a brawl on Sunday has been extended.
“We have reconsidered the one-month ban and will now ban for the entire season as part of our zero tolerance to violence,” Ms Thompson said.
The ban will also apply to all future cases, but others involved on Sunday will get off without a ban due to issues identifying who was involved.
“There were three young people… who received the ban. But there were also a lot of others who were ‘involved’ – too many for the attendants to positively identify,” Ms Thompson said.
A Baw Baw Shire Council Facebook comment said “it seems that many of you (Facebook commenters) would be willing to pay an admission fee for the pools if it was to act as a deterrent to anti-social behaviour.”
That option will be presented to councillors at their next meeting.
“The YMCA has recommended that council adopt fees. The next council meeting is 23 January and this is where the first opportunity to make such a policy change could happen,” Ms Thompson said.
The council announced the pool would be closed on Monday and Tuesday via Facebook at the start of the week, prompting a large angry backlash to the punishment.
Almost 80 comments were left on the Facebook post, the majority of which expressed disappointment about the pool’s closure.
“Why don’t you just… ban the anti-social people instead of ruining everyone else’s fun,” one commenter said, gaining 30 likes at time of writing.
Ms Thompson said the closure was standard procedure.
“There was a behaviour escalation process that stated that a major incident, such as violence, would result in the pool being closed,” Ms Thompson said.
“Banned for a month? ….waste of time, ban them permanently! Just rang your Warragul office (before I found this page) to ask if the pool was open and they said yes. What hope have we got when your own staff don’t even know what’s going on?!” another commenter said.
Ms Thompson said the council could have responded more quickly.
“A joint decision between Council Officers and the YMCA management decided to close the pool around midday on Monday,” Ms Thompson said.
“In retrospect, we could have informed people more quickly.”
A new window will be installed at the pool to allow staff to “eyeball” misbehaving patrons.
“The new window installed near the entry door is to create an opportunity for pool staff to connect with patrons and talk about acceptable behaviour at the facility before they enter the pool,” Ms Thompson said.
“This way there can be no misunderstandings about acceptable behaviour.”
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