Swim group fears safety 'overlooked' at walk-through test site at leisure centre

A swimming group has claimed safety has been “overlooked” at a walk-through test site in a leisure centre and is demanding that it be moved.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 7:00 am

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Warrender Baths Club whose members train at the pool at Ainslie Park have written to local councillors raising concerns about the walk-through Covid-19 testing centre in the car park.

The club is asking that the site be moved, as they fear the increase in footfall when the popular centre reopens on April 26 will leave people ‘crammed in’ making it harder for safe physical distancing.

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Test site is located in car park Ainslie Park

Walk-in testing centres are also set up in the car parks of Drumbrae Leisure Centre, Jack Kane Sports Centre. The Ainslie Park test site opened on 27 February and is due to operate under current licence up to end of May.

The car park which is used by Spartans Football Club as well as the leisure centre is already at around half capacity due to the test site.

Signs on the site direct people getting tested to park cars on roads outside the centre. But the group says the limited car park capacity and pedestrian access will make the site unsafe – and claims a risk assessment needs carried out once the site reopens.

Jennifer MacLeod, Pools Convenor and Covid Lead said: “When the centre is open it’s hugely busy and the car park is always full. The testing centre takes up more than half the car park and is accessed by car and on foot from one narrow road.

"There is one footpath from the street on only one side leading to the centre. The centre is heavily used by many groups, the general public, local people, families, mums with prams and children travelling there alone on foot.

“People come in and leave on that path, and will be queuing to wait for their allotted entry time. The car park is completely full and operates on a one in one out basis at peak times. Safety isn't being prioritised. People will be crammed in. We are worried that centre users will be exposed to symptomatic people who are waiting to be tested.

“Public safety is being overlooked here. We understand that the licence for the centre was granted for an initial period of 3 months and would appeal for the licence not to be extended on the grounds of public safety as a minimum. We would ask why it has not been relocated when access to the site is heavily restricted due to its layout.”

An Edinburgh Leisure spokesperson said: “Local testing centres are a critical and positive development in our fight against COVID-19 and Edinburgh Leisure is pleased to be assisting Scottish Government and the City of Edinburgh Council with this initiative.

We have no concerns about health and safety and the necessary risk assessments will have been carried out as a matter of course. However, it will mean some inconvenience for our customers with reduced car-parking capacity. We apologise in advance and ask our customers to plan in advance of their journeys to any of these centres.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said:

“To increase access to testing, we are establishing new walk-through local test sites in communities across Scotland. The locations of these sites are agreed with local partners and are kept under review. We will work with these partners to reflect on these concerns that have been raised for this site to ensure all testing sites are in appropriate and safe locations.”

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