A FREMINGTON mum is campaigning for better facilities for her daughter and other severely disabled swimmers at North Devon Leisure Centre in Barnstaple. Julie Evett, 32, approached North Devon Council to ask whether it would consider installing a hoist an

A FREMINGTON mum is campaigning for better facilities for her daughter and other severely disabled swimmers at North Devon Leisure Centre in Barnstaple.

Julie Evett, 32, approached North Devon Council to ask whether it would consider installing a hoist and specialist changing facilities as part of a planned upgrade of the existing 1970s-built centre at Seven Brethren Bank.

She said she had met with council officers to discuss the problems she has taking her four-year old daughter Rose swimming.

"The council and the leisure centre have been great and have agreed to install a portable hoist so that the pool will be accessible to everyone including those with severe disabilities," she said.

"There is a hoist already but that is only suitable for people with some mobility and it is not suitable for most disabled people, who need a hammock-type hoist.

"The centre is also in need of new changing facilities as there are currently no changing beds at the centre and if I take Rose swimming, I have to change her on the floor.

"The physiotherapist has agreed that if I can get Rose in the water as much as possible it will be good for her muscles. There is a good pool that we can use at Pathfields school but we can only use the pool there once a week.

"I'd really like to hear from other people who have difficulty using the pool at the leisure centre as I would like to be able to take other suggested improvements back to the council," she added.

North Devon Council said that the £5million originally set aside to upgrade the centre was no longer available due to the current economic climate. Instead, it is still hoping to make around £1million worth of repairs subject to further discussions with contractor Parkwood Leisure.

Mark Kentell, health and leisure officer, said: "The refurbishment of the leisure centre is subject to the result of ongoing negotiations with the contractor. If the refurbishment goes ahead, we will consult with the community to ensure disabled facilities will be included as part of the programme of works.

"In the meantime, we are assisting in locating a portable hoist for the leisure centre pool. We are also working with Ms Evett, our water mobility group and other agencies, to ensure full access to our pools."

Julie Evett has asked anyone with any suggestions on how to improve access to the pool for disabled people to telephone her on 07855 458375.