Pool owners in the City of Swan will now have their pool fences inspected every three years instead of every four and will pay more than twice as much for fence inspections.
The city, in Perth’s outer northeast, currently imposes an average of one inspection every four years with ratepayers charged $57.45 for the inspection.
This is the maximum amount the State Government allows for a pool fence inspection in any one year.
But under changes approved at the March 15 council meeting, pool owners across Swan will now be charged $35 every year for fence inspection costs.
At $140 over four years, that’s 243 per cent of the current fee.
It costs the city $100 to conduct an inspection, of which pool owners pay $57.45.
The current $57.45 fee is subsidised by the city to the tune of $42.55. But at the meeting on March 15 the city’s elected officials agreed to move to full cost recovery.
Former President of the Swan Valley and Regional Ratepayers Association, and pool owner, David Atkinson said he was confused by the proposed changes.
“If they change to three years, what’s the reason?” he questioned.
“Once you put a pool fence in it doesn’t actually change.
“The last thing I want is someone drowning in my pool so I maintain it to the best degree possible.”
City of Swan CEO Mike Foley said more frequent inspections were necessary to improve safety and public compliance with regulations.
“The city believes that more frequent inspections result in more compliant pool barriers, which in turn increases safety around pools,” Mr Foley said.
He said that although there was no data to suggest more frequent inspections would reduce compliance or increase safety, monitoring was necessary to maintain safety.
“A direct comparison of three yearly versus four yearly inspections [in terms of compliance or safety incidents] is not available,” he said.
“Evidence does show that inspections [generally] increase compliance and that pool drownings have reduced overall since mandatory inspections were introduced.”
There are 170,000 home swimming pools across Western Australia.
Home Checking and Pool Contract Coordinator of Royal Life Saving WA, Andrew Mosel, said it was everyone’s responsibility to ensure pool barriers meet regulations.
“It’s extremely important for the safety of zero to five-year-olds, so we do promote supervision but it is important to put in barriers as well,” Mr Mosel said.
“In WA we’ve brought in legislation inspecting every four years which has seen a reduction in drownings.”
Mr Mosell endorsed a three-yearly inspection cycle saying it had worked well in other cities such as Wanneroo.
“We’ve been inspecting in that area for quite a few years and we have quite a high compliance rate compared to the standard that’s out there [elsewhere],” he said.
The outlying Perth cities of Gosnells, Joondalup, Melville, Cockburn and Armadale all have four-year inspection cycles.
Cockburn’s Manager of Building Services John West said that city was not considering changing its inspection cycle to every three years.
Swan pool owners will be charged the new fee from 2018/19.