Safety raised in pool row

Joe Butterfield
Joe Butterfield
The heat is on over the immediate future of the Otago Therapeutic Pool, in Dunedin.

The Southern District Health Board and the Otago Therapeutic Pool Trust are at odds over how long the pool can be safely used before its future is decided.

The board says there is a health and safety issue in not draining the pool at the end of this year, but the trust wants to wait until the middle of next year, and says it is safe for the public to use.

The trust says it would benefit from the extra time to find a solution to the pool's future.

When the pool is drained it is expected some of the tiles will fall away, triggering the spending of up to $400,000 of an estimated $1 million upgrade.

The health board yesterday considered the matter at a meeting in Dunedin, but resolved little except agreeing to encourage discussion with the trust and the Dunedin City Council.

Board members largely expressed little enthusiasm for keeping the pool, or at least for the financial risk it posed.

Board members Richard Thomson and Dr John Chambers, both of Dunedin, spoke in its favour.

Mr Thomson said the board's tone should change to emphasise ''hope and opportunity'' around keeping the pool.

The board, described yesterday as ''broke'' by chairman Joe Butterfield, says it cannot afford the pool's $100,000 annual operating shortfall, or the required upgrade.

Trust secretary-treasurer Neville Martin said the pool, which has not been drained for 18 months, was not a health and safety risk.

He said the board was too focused on the required capital spending of up to $1 million, which could be fundraised.

The board should contribute to the running costs of the pool, the level of which could be negotiated.

''The value of this facility is well founded and widely recognised among those who work in the health sector and folk in the Dunedin and Otago communities,'' Mr Martin said.

''It is too precious to allow a cost-saving agenda across the breadth of SDHB to end it.''

After the meeting, Mr Martin said he had considered the deadline, and while December was long enough to find a solution, he would prefer more time. The pool's water met safety standards.

''I also want to consult the DCC about the advice from SDHB management that for health reasons the pool must be emptied at the end of this year.''

''This aspect appeared to dominate the chairman's reasoning to stay with the end of year deadline,'' Mr Martin said.

''I am not sure that the board members - apart from a couple - took on my submission about who needs to fund the capital expenditure.

''It appears to me that this is still affecting their judgement and their decision to close the pool.''

Earlier, Mr Butterfield told board members the pool must be drained at the end of the year as it posed a health and safety risk. Draining it would initiate upgrade work the board could not afford, as it had severely limited capital spending ability.

Mr Butterfield said he had shifted deliberations on the pool into the public section of yesterday's meeting, because of the publicity generated by its possible closure.

It was revealed yesterday the decision to close the pool was made in a public-excluded health board session in May.



Good grief.  What a pathetic reason by Butterfield that was given.  And today I see that despite the findings of a number of court findings that when a woman tries to recover her dead husband's body that was illlegally snatched from Christchurch and buried in his estranged "cultural" burial ground in the Bay of Plenty, 30 police decided to retreat in the face of mob rule on the grounds of "safety".  About time that when anyone uses "safety" as an excuse for inaction, that the views of Marx were remembered.

When all else fails

When every rational argument fails, simply call it a Health and Safety issue and then there can be no further discussion.  Who would want to put people at risk when there are Health and Safety "issues".    The big advantage is that you don't even have to say what they are!   If you dare to keep the pool open the Health and Safety bogie-man will get you - end of argument.

Public excluded in May

It seems SDHB forgot to take the water temperature long before its May meeting with the public excluded. Back then, the board, although deeply broke and beleaguered by government appointments, did itself no favours in not first inviting open discussion and community solutions to issues of compliance, cost and enhanced access. Irresponsible.

Safety the winner on the day

One of the great things about "safety" is that it cannot be guaranteed 100%, 24/7.  Thanks to this splendid phenomenon concern for safety, which appears to be responsible, admirable, can be trotted out as an argument to bolster the need for decisions for which other reasons are less palatable.

The more support from MP's the better

Totally agree fishes, While Curren and Clark have had some input and will at least comment on the situation we need a more proactive approach from all our MPs and all candiates.  Curren and Clark may be in more of a position to have influence if the left wins in September. They could however put far more pressure on our current Dunedin National government MP Mr Woodhouse who is simply ignoring this issue.

The government of the day has a high election profile in Dunedin with little to say on Dunedin's health cuts at present unfolding. Fighting for local issues such as this will always turn out to be of far more value to voters than saying and doing nothing. 



How interesting that the initial discussions around the possible closure of the pool was held with the public excluded. Why was that necessary?

Uh huh...

Yet the hospital board can afford the yearly lease on the servant doctor's clinic in Princes Street.

Curran and Clark, where are you?

An election is looming and little is heard from MP's on what is the most significant issue to Dunedin - the loss of health services.

The pool closure was agreed in secret by the SDHB, what else is planned in secret? Forget house insulation and Hillside workshops and focus on saving our health service.

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