Tendring District Council (TDC) has pleaded guilty to a single charge relating to its Legionella management systems after being prosecuted as a result of a case of Legionnaire’s Disease contracted by a customer at Walton-on-the-Naze Lifestyles leisure centre two years ago.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation was launched in November 2016 after the case, and as a result the agency charged TDC over its systems for managing the risk of Legionella at some of its leisure centre sites.
Colchester Magistrates’ Court today fined TDC £27,000, and imposed costs of £7,197 and a statutory victim surcharge of £170.
Ian Davidson, TDC chief executive, reassured residents that systems had been changed as a result, working alongside specialist contractors.
“On behalf of Tendring District Council I would like to apologise to the individual, a regular customer at Walton-on-the-Naze Lifestyles who contracted Legionnaires’ Disease and whose illness triggered the Health and Safety Executive investigation which resulted in today’s hearing.
“I would like to reassure the public, and particularly our leisure centre customers, that our leisure centres are safe. We deeply regret that standards fell below the high level that we hold ourselves to, and we know which the public expect from us.
“As the court heard, as soon as we became aware of potential shortcomings in our processes for managing Legionella risk we took immediate action to address those issues. This included closing the gym showers and then the whole leisure centre, carrying out checks, and bringing in an external specialist water management contractor to thoroughly review and update our processes.
“It is important to note that the council was not ignorant of Legionella, but our systems for managing the risk fell short of the standard they should have been.
“Longer-term we have improved our training standards for staff, and regularly monitor not only our water quality, but also at a senior management level that such checks are being carried out.
“We have invested significant amounts of money into our leisure centres to make sure they are modern and in keeping with rigorous health and safety standards.
All of this has been carried out without being required to by the Health and Safety Executive, and there has been no need for enforcement notices to be issued to make sure we carried out this work.
“At Tendring District Council we take health and safety extremely seriously, and we fully accept the fine issued by the court today. As the court heard, this will of course impact upon our budgets – however, through our long-term financial plan we will look to mitigate the knock-on effect on tax payers and service users as best we can.
“We will continue to move forward with delivering a high-quality service for residents, not just for our leisure centre customers but right across the council.”