Maria Young lives in a block flats owned and managed the company MHS Homes. Along with the various apartments the building also includes a large community garden. Given the recent heatwave it might not be too surprising to hear that some of the families got together and chipped in to buy an above-ground swimming pool for them to enjoy during this sweltering heat.
But, Maria and many of the other families were ordered by MHS homes to either remove the pool permanently, or empty it each night and then refill it again in the morning. Strangely, the reason given for the MHS’s insistence that the pool be taken down is… well it’s pretty stupid. We’ll let Maria explain it herself:
“They said if someone breaks in they might drown in the pool.
“I don’t understand. People in other places are allowed them in their community gardens.
“A team of them came and said initially we’d have to get rid of it. They then changed their mind and said we had to put it down each night for health and safety issues.”
The pool, for the curious, holds 15,000 gallons and takes three hours to empty or fill. Maria goes to on to say:
“We sit out the back together and socialise. It’s completely enclosed.
“They said we could take it down and empty it each night but there’s a water shortage on the way. It’s a waste.
“It’s fun for the kids. It’s better being out in the fresh air than stuck in doors.
“There’s no way I’m taking it down. They’ll have to carry me out laying in it.”
Interestingly MHS did respond to press inquiries and laid out the reasoning for their decision:
“While it’s really lovely to see people coming together as a community, we have to be sure that everyone who has access to that land is safe. This summer we’re having extreme weather and it’s very hot.
“But the pool is on land owned by us and we’re responsible for everyone’s safety. We’re telling residents that the pool needs to be taken down and we’ll be speaking to them about how they can safely enjoy a paddling pool in a communal area. Pools in private gardens and small children’s paddling pools in communal gardens are fine so long as children are always accompanied and it’s emptied when not being used.
"Please remove your paddling pool, a burglar might drown".... NOBODY should care about the life of a burglar. https://t.co/VRR8At5y5y— liarpoliticians (@liarpoliticians) July 12, 2018
“We don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun, which is why we’re going to talk to our residents about trying to make this safe. We’ve been on site to address the concerns about the gates. All gates leading onto the street are locked and secure. The locks for the gates which sit between the communal areas will be replaced.”
At the risk of siding with the corporate stooges, UK law states that if someone injures themselves on property that was accessible by the public but which you own then you are financially liable. That means that if a hiker wanders into a farmer’s field and steps on a nail, they can sue the farmer for a large sum of money.
In this case, MHS is legally responsible for injuries acquired by anyone who wanders through that open gate. If someone wanders through and then drowns in that pool, well… it could bankrupt MHS.
So maybe this is less about MHS being stupid, and more about the over-zealous litigation laws we have in the UK.