Pool in the Park action to tackle voyeurism finally arrives

WOKING Borough Council has at last confirmed dates to tackle a spate of privacy complaints at Pool in the Park – four months after the News & Mail first reported the presence of alleged voyeurs at the swimming centre.

At the request of local Liberal Democrat Leader, Councillor Will Forster, the authority’s Corporate Management Group confirmed that work to install modesty boards at the complex will be undertaken the week commencing 1 February.

The action, prompted after a number of reports of voyeurism at the site’s changing facilities, will be managed by Freedom Leisure, who run Pool in the Park and the neighbouring Woking Leisure Centre on behalf of the council.

An email to Cllr Forster said the remedy will be carried out overnight from Monday to Thursday of that week to ensure disruption to users is kept to a minimum. Woking mum Ashleigh Varkevisser, who has been a member of Pool in the Park for more than 10 years, first appeared in the News & Mail in October after she learned that a case of voyeurism involving a young girl in the changing rooms had been reported to police at the end of September.

Having been spied on at the facilities herself in May 2015, she contacted her local newspaper in an urgent bid for change.

Now, with the situation due to be addressed, Mrs Varkevisser expressed delight, but slammed the council for taking so long to implement action.

The 46-year-old mother of two young girls told the News & Mail: “I’m glad the council have finally got around to doing something, although the cost of this work will be paid for by the taxpayer.”

She added she was disappointed that her calls to simply segregate the unisex facilities – saving money and time – fell on deaf ears.

“I had valid questions as to why the council ignored the simple option of segregation in the changing rooms, when this is the case at Guildford Spectrum (also run by Freedom Leisure),” she explained.

“I sent emails for months, but no one bothered to reply.”

Mrs Varkevisser had been spied on by a man from the gap beneath her cubicle after a swim last year.

Police confirmed that further complaints of voyeurism had been lodged since her initial report – one incident involved a teenage girl.

The saga descended into farce after Mrs Varkevisser’s outrage went public, with councillors accused of putting political sniping ahead of the interests of their constituents.

Having kept her daughters away from Pool in the Park pending im-provements, Mrs Varkevisser says she will have to inspect the changes before reviewing her stance.

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