Harpenden swimming pool condemned for being “filthy”

Harpenden swimming pool.

Harpenden swimming pool. - Credit: Archant

Harpenden’s “flithy” and “vile” swimming pool has been condemned by local mums in a string of complaints.

Problems include dirty floors, overflowing nappy bins, murky water, unpredictable temperatures, weak showers, smelly air, overcrowding and absent management – but the pool-side staff were generally lauded as friendly and doing their best with limited resources.

Floors are so dirty that one mum, who did not wish to be named, says she is forced to wear flip flops to keep her feet clean.

The mum, who is a regular visitor to the pool with her children, said: “It’s filthy, and it’s absolutely disgusting.

“You almost want to come home and have a bath after changing, it’s really that bad.”

Mums and dads on Facebook group Harpenden Parents Network also voiced their concerns.

Elissa Baird said: “The pool and changing rooms are vile and the organisation itself is very frustrating, but it’s really the only option in town.”

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She said everything – the smell, colour, lighting – was “yuck, yuck, yuck”.

Jenni Benton said the changing rooms are “generally really dirty”.

She said: “Over the years it’s definitely gone downhill in my opinion.”

Many acknowledged noticing problems, but said swimmers should be more conscientious.

Coral Godbee said: “I regularly see many people not using the blue shoe covers, wheeling buggies through the changing areas, leaving dirty nappies in changing rooms and some people are obviously letting children urinate in cubicles.

“If it is dirty then it because users are making it dirty - despite the regular cleaning.”

Lucy Brooks said: “I agree that the changing rooms are not always particularly clean but I would firmly point the fingers of blame at the users of the pool, not the management.”

This has been echoed by a former employee, Anastasia Knott, who joined the discussion to give an insider’s point of view.

Anastasia said staff are limited to budgets, company procedures, and inconsiderate users.

She said: “The cleanliness can be an issue, especially when children use the urinals for number twos, or when they write their name on the cubicle walls with their own faeces, or use the changing rooms as a football pitch and leave mud trails everywhere.

“Nappies left on the floor, used condoms and sanitary products, I could go on with the sights I witnessed and had to clean up.”

A spokesperson for 1Life, who manage the pool, said: “The team at the pool have made a huge effort to improve levels of cleanliness, following concerns raised last year by users and local councillors.”

She said the inspections carried out by St Albans district council are up to date and “excellent”, and a planned refurbishment of the 18-year-old pool will “enable efficient cleaning” in the future.

It is planned to be open by June 2019.

St Albans district councillor Annie Brewster, portfolio holder for sport, leisure and heritage, said the facilities are “largely worn out”, “urgently need replacing”, and the new facilities “cannot come soon enough”.

She said: “The number of complaints relating to cleanliness has reduced at the Harpenden swimming pool over the past few months following increased inspections, a revised cleaning matrix and increased base clean and deep clean levels by the daily contractors.

“Further cleaning is also undertaken by lifeguards and duty managers to assist at peak times, for example, schools’ lessons and heavy weekend traffic. “During very busy times it is impossible to clean around people in the changing village and the poolside toilets and showers.”