October 23rd, 2016

‘Peeping Tom’ fears over unisex changing in leisure centre revamp

‘Peeping Tom’ fears over unisex changing in leisure centre revamp ‘Peeping Tom’ fears over unisex changing in leisure centre revamp
Warwick District Council's vision for the revamp of Newbold Comyn. (s)
Updated: 10:25 am, Feb 17, 2016

UNISEX changing rooms at revamped leisure centre are an invitation to Peeping Toms.

So fears a former district councillor who has voiced concerns over the proposals for ‘village changing’ – where cubicles are not separated – as part of Warwick District Council’s £12million redevelopment of Newbold Comyn and St Nicholas Park leisure centres.

Linda Bromley described the move as ‘disturbing’ following a number of incidents vouyerism at centres up and down the country operating the system – with victims as young as nine.

She told The Observer: “With both sexes vying for cubicles in a mixed sex area, the opportunities for voyeurism are rife. Many pages of websites display incidents occurring in such leisure centre changing rooms across the country.

“There are reports of persons exposing themselves, mirrors and cameras being held under or over cubicles with victims as young as nine suffering trauma, offenders facing charges in court and a council being sued for negligence.

“These plans must be altered to allow some segregation to accommodate those who wish to preserve their modesty and avoid predators.”

But the district council say the plans are based on guidance from Sport England and the Amateur Swimming Association, both of which support the village change designs

A council spokesperson said: “We are confident the designs are both appropriate and secure for our customers. Over the recent consultation events at the leisure centres, council officers have spoken to over 1,000 customers and the overwhelming majority are in support of the proposals, including the village changing areas.”

* CONCERN has also been raised at the loss of the splash pool at St Nicholas Park and the lack of public transport to Newbold Comyn for young families wanting to go swimming.

The council say the splash pool was no longer ‘fit for purpose’ and there was not space to design in a new children’s pool that met current design guidance.

The council hope a new bus route could operate between the centres to take families with young children to Newbold Comyn.

* COUNCIL chiefs have defended spending £30,000 on seeking a private contractor to run the revamped leisure centres.

The decision to bring in a contractor to run them – rather than running them in house – prompted criticism of the Conservative run authority – including the launch of a petition by the council’s Labour group.

Labour campaigner Ben Wesson – who put in a Freedom of Information request to find out how much was being spent on finding a management company – said it was a waste of taxpayers’ money.

He said: “If money is as tight as the Tory councillors make out, then they should be counting every penny, not blowing it on privatisation plans.

But Warwick District Council have defended their spending, saying the costs were available in a public report which went to the Executive in November.

A spokesperson said: “The tender process is necessary to establish the best external partner to work with the Council to manage the council’s leisure centres.

“It is anticipated the financial benefits of a successful procurement exercise will be substantially more than the cost of the procurement exercise.”