Essex County Council fined after disabled boy's accident

A council has been fined £20,000 after a disabled boy "nearly died" in a school swimming pool.

Essex County Council admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court.

The nine-year-old Harlow boy was a blue colour when he was pulled from his school swimming pool in March 2011.

The county council said its procedures had been improved since the incident and said it was "deeply sorry".

The court heard the county council had failed to provide schools with enough information and guidance on running swimming pools safely.

The boy, who has severe physical and learning difficulties, regained consciousness at the pool side and was taken to the Princess Alexander Hospital in Harlow.

'Deeply sorry'

His mother, in a statement taken as part of the Health and Safety Executive investigation, said her son was now frightened of water and was generally not as happy as before.

As well as the fine, the council has to pay £10,000 in costs.

A spokeswoman for the county council said its procedures at the time were not "suitably robust".

"Since the incident we have rigorously examined our procedures and policies and have actively worked with the HSE to improve these," she said.

HSE Inspector Nicola Jaynes said: "This incident could have ended in tragedy and clearly demonstrates the need for local authorities to provide clear and up-to-date training, guidance and information to schools where they are the employer, so that schools can safely manage their swimming pools."