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Case 284 - Babies banned from toddler activity at local leisure centre

Issue

Enquirer attended a leisure centre with her 3 year old and 11 month old (who was sleeping in a portable car seat) to enable her 3 year old to partake in an activity session. The enquirer was stopped from bringing the 11 month old into the event for "health and safety" reasons. The leisure centre had completed a risk assessment that was only done for 1-5 year olds and therefore under 1’s could not be in that room due to them being a trip hazard. They ended up having to leave and get their money back (along with two other mums for the same reason).

Panel decision

Although the centre does need to consider the safety of children participating a fun event, they appear to have extended their assessment to include those who are merely watching under their parents’ supervision. If they have real concerns about the presence of a sleeping baby - either because of lack of space, or causing an obstruction - they should make this clear. It is entirely predictable that parents bringing 1-5 year olds to such an event would be likely to bring even younger siblings along so it is difficult to understand why this was not considered in advance and a means found to accommodate them. At best this is a case of poor communication, and at worst it is simply using health and safety as an excuse. The leisure centre management should have offered a better solution than this.

2014-03-17