THE MANAGER BEHIND a controversial ban on a pioneering professional life-saver from using a swimming pool has received support from his bosses by the thinnest of margins.
The manager of the Moray Leisure Centre, Steve Ash, caused uproar when he chose to impose a ban on professional swimming trainer Kevin Anderson for what he claimed was a serious health and safety breach.
Mr Anderson regularly teaches Autistic children and adults – his pioneering efforts at taking them on surfing sessions drawing extensive praise from the National Autistic Society Scotland. His ban from the Moray pool came after he allegedly straying beyond the half-way point with a boy in his care.
While the ban on Mr Anderson is expected to end next month, his supporters hoped that an appeal against it ever having been imposed in the first place would be allowed – however, it has emerged this week that Leisure Centre directors voted by four to three not to allow any independent appeal.
Mr Anderson, whose ‘Riding High’ surf school recently received the SportMoray community engagement award for its pioneering work, said it was now clear to him and his supporters that the publicly funded Leisure Centre was “not being run appropriately”, adding that he had been given no explanation over why his appeal attempt was dismissed.
However, Mr Ash said that while the matter was discussed by the board they had left the decision over health and safety issues in his hands.
Like most people in Moray, I don’t know Steve Ash – but I’m pretty sure he feels he did the right thing in imposing a ban for what he clearly felt was a breach of health and safety issues in the swimming pool he manages. It is also very true that should something terrible happen at that facility the buck would very much stop at his desk.
However, throughout this entire saga what has emerged is a stubborn refusal to even consider that health and safety needs to be tempered with common sense, and this particular ban never made sense to anyone bar Mr Ash.
He has now – only just – received the support of Moray Leisure Centre directors, who have taken the decision not to allow an independent appeal over the process. The four who voted against allowing such an appeal doubtless felt that they had to support their employee – nothing wrong there.
Except, what exactly did Moray Leisure have to lose by allowing an open and independent probe into the entire saga?
If they are so confident that the ban was a correct one, surely it would have made much more sense to allow an appeal, confident that the decision of their centre manager would be vindicated?