A MOTHER has criticised safety rules which she claims could stop single parents taking their children swimming.

Jan Finn, 41, from Darlington, was refused entry to swim at Spennymoor Leisure Centre because she had two of her children with her and pool safety rules require one adult for every child under four.

Mother-of-four Mrs Finn asked another woman to act as her second adult but was rebuked for doing so by staff and eventually had to leave the pool when the other woman got out.

"They initially said I could not go in at all so we went back to the car and my little two-year-old, Anna, was crying," said Mrs Finn.

"Then I saw two women going in, so I asked if one of them would be my second adult.

"It's ridiculous - I'm quite capable of supervising a two-year-old and a four-year-old. What if we had gone to the beach?"

Mrs Finn, of Pierremont Road, works as a health improvement facilitator on Darlington's Firthmoor estate.

Her job involves helping people - including many single parents - to become more active.

"I'm not a single parent, but if I was how could I bring my children swimming?" she said.

"The Government is trying to encourage people to get away from the TV and get active. This will stop families from going to the pool and I think it's totally wrong.

"I'm going to raise it with my line manager, the director of public health."

Peter Whittall, a health and safety advisor to Sedgefield Borough Council, which runs the Spennymoor pool, said the authority based its rules on guidelines from the Institute of Sport and Recreation Management. The ratio is one adult for every child under-four and one adult for two children under-eight.

"These guidelines have come out of series of drownings," said Mr Whittall.

"At the end of the day it puts more responsibility on parents. Lifeguards can't be expected to be responsible for the safety of every child."

Wear Valley District Council has a one adult per child under-eight rule whereas at Darlington's Dolphin Centre the ratio is one adult for three children under-eight.

Teesdale District Council insists on one adult per child under-five and one adult per two children under-eight.