16837064.jpg-pwrt2DISABLED swimmers have been reassured by city council managers the right equipment is available at a new £9.2m swimming pool following criticism.

Yona Barrett lives on the Cutteslowe estate in North Oxford, with husband Brian who is her carer.

Former bus driver Mrs Barrett developed rheumatoid arthritis about six years ago and had to give up work four years ago because her mobility was affected.

The 44-year-old visited the new city council pool in Pegasus Road, Blackbird Leys with her 54-year-old husband but decided not to use it when she saw metal ladders at the side of the pool, and did not want to use the pool’s hoist.

Mrs Barrett said: “I asked if there were any other steps for me to get into the pool and was told they were on order.

“When I went back two days later, staff at the pool said they would be able to install heavy-duty plastic steps for me with a rail alongside, so that’s an improvement.”

Fusion Leisure runs the pool on behalf of the council and marketing executive Stephen Lee said: “The plastic steps are available on request at reception, or the hoist, and reception staff can radio through to the pool team to get them ready.

“The pool opened on January 2 but the centre was not 100 per cent complete and that included ordering in these plastic steps – now everything has been done.”

Today the leisure centre complex is being officially opened with a range of free family activities taking place this weekend.

City council spokesman Chofamba Sithole said the council worked closely with the Oxford Swans Disability Swimming Club to ensure the pool complied with disability legislation.

He added: “Facilities provided include an accessible changing room including overhead hoist, couch and showering and toilet facilities. Easy-access steps allow easier access to the pool with a much gentler gradient.”


Oxford Times