Pool 'modesty barrier' for Muslims is agreed

A "modesty barrier" will be installed at a Black Country pool to further protect Muslim women swimmers from public view - after its windows were also covered up.

Pool 'modesty barrier' for Muslims is agreed

A "modesty barrier" will be installed at a Black Country pool to further protect Muslim women swimmers from public view - after its windows were also covered up.

The barrier will block the view of the baths at Darlaston Leisure Centre from its open-plan reception.

It is the latest move by Walsall Council in response to requests from the Muslim community, and comes after a dark film was used to cover all 58 windows of the 10-year-old building. Leisure chiefs say the move will cost "hundreds of pounds".

They added that funding to create the barrier will come from "external" grants and not from council coffers.

The Express & Star revealed on Saturday that dark film had been used to cover low window panels, with the £1,400 cost for that also coming from elsewhere.

And retired legal secretary Pauline Poole, who uses the baths up to four times a week, said the new proposals for a modesty barrier were more evidence of the council not listening to the views of everyone.

"I would certainly support their right to make the request," she said.

"It's the fact the council have just gone ahead and agreed to it without consulting anyone else that I have a problem with. I have friends from all backgrounds and the fact Muslim people requested this is irrelevant.

"It's simply the fact that the wishes of a minority seem to be taken more seriously than the views of anyone else."

Councillor Anthony Harris, Walsall Council cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: "Adjustments are made to facilities from time to time in response to requests from a wide range of groups within the community.

"Local authorities are also legally bound by the Equality Act 2000 to provide access to goods, facilities and services under the six strands of equality which have been written to reduce disadvantage.

"These measures are to benefit all of our communities.

"It's a shame that such minor adjustments have provoked such a negative response."

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