July 18, 2024

Fury at Briary Court as Peverel closes swimming pool … it’s ‘elf ‘n’ safety’, innit?

BriaryCourtswimBriary Court, a retirement site on the Isle of Wight, was in a state of uproar after Peverel arbitrarily closed the swimming pool and drained it on ‘elf ‘n’ safety’ grounds.

Furious residents attended a packed meeting two weeks ago with Peverel officials at the retirement site, which overlooks the sea at Cowes.

Peverel officials Anthony McAllister, the company’s health and safety manager, and Beverley Roberts, the area manager, were told that the company’s actions were a “disgrace”, “high-handed” and that residents had been treated with “contempt”.

Briary Court, overlooking the water at Cowes on the Isle of Wight, was the scene of a bitter showdown with Peverel

Briary Court, overlooking the water at Cowes on the Isle of Wight, was the scene of a bitter showdown with Peverel which wanted to spend thousands raising the level of the pool

“It was an absolutely disgraceful decision that was taken without the slightest discussion,” says Tom Tyson, 80, an ex-fireman who, like many of the 66 apartment-owners, used the pool every day. Many do so on the strong advice of their doctors.

“One woman was in tears because of all this. It has caused a huge amount of stress and ill feeling.”

In an initial statement to Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation, Peverel denied that “the pool was drained at any point”, but it later corrected this misinformation.

It also insisted that “We consulted with residents to see if they wanted the depth of the pool to be altered and provided costs for this work for residents to review.”

There was little evidence of consultation with the residents in the correspondence of Beverley Roberts.

She notified Briary Court on September 30 that the pool would be closed.

“We have taken the decision to close the pool until costs have been obtained to put measures in place to reduce the risk to pool users,” she wrote.

On October 1 she wrote individually to residents to provide “further explanation”.

Here it emerged that the six-foot depth of the swimming pool at the deep end was the problem, and Roberts would be getting quotes to make it shallower.

She wrote:

“The depth of your pool is in excess of 1.5 metres. The Health & Safety Guidance (HSG) states that various hazards/risks have been identified as factors in past deaths or serious injuries and those relevant at Briary Court are:

“Prior health problems (eg heart trouble, impaired hearing or sight, epilepsy);

“Youth and inexperience (half of those who drown are under the age of 15);

“Absence of, or inadequate response by, lifeguards in an emergency.

“The way to reduce these risks would be:-

1)   Employ a lifeguard

2)   Reduce the depth of the pool and have a floating alarm

“We are currently in the process of obtaining quotes for the second option.”

Residents were appalled by the suggestion, which was being presented to them as a fait accompli. Sums of £10,000 – £20,000 were mentioned to pay for this.

“If we had wanted to float rubber ducks we would have bought a paddling pool,” says Tyson.

Roped off: the entrance to the swimming pool area at Briary Court after it was closed by Peverel

Roped off: the entrance to the swimming pool area at Briary Court after it was closed by Peverel

Residents also scorned the suggestion that “youth and inexperience” were a significant ‘elf ‘n’ safety’ hazard in a retirement site’s swimming pool.

They have pointed an accusing finger at Anthony McAllister, Peverel’s in-house health and safety manager, who in June whipped up a fury at Homepine House, in Folkestone, over a supposed £70,000 fire safety upgrade. (Peverel has been asked for a statement on this issue.)

“McAllister thought he was going to be giving us chapter and verse and we would just roll over,” says Tyson. “But it didn’t go his way at all.”

After the residents issued veiled threats of legal action, the idea of reducing the swimming pool’s depth was dropped. Instead, it was decided to have signs indicating the deep and shallow ends.

A floating alarm was also discussed, but discarded as a practical idea as it could be out of reach in the seven-metre pool.

“Ironically, they recently spent a fortune of our money modernising the fire alarms, but we cannot actually hear them from some of the flats,” says Tyson.

Peverel is employed on the site by the freehold-owning company Proxima GR, which is part of the Tchenguiz Family Trust. It owns the overwhelming majority of the retirement freeholds that Peverel manages.

Indeed, until the arrest of Vincent and Robert Tchenguiz in March 2011, the Tchenguiz Family Trust, which owns one per cent of all the residential freeholds in the UK – including those of 53,000 retirement flats – also owned Peverel itself.

Around 70-80 per cent of Peverel’s business still comes from the Tchenguiz Family Trust.

“Many residents are now questioning whether their best interests are served by Peverel,” said Tyson. “This is a site that would be better served if we went for right to manage.”

Local MP Andrew Turner is being kept informed of events at the site, as is Sir Peter Bottomley. Both were included in the Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation correspondence with Peverel.

The view from Briary Court, where most of the clouds on the horizon are man-made

The view from Briary Court, where most of the clouds on the horizon are man-made

‘Consultation’ – Peverel style

Click on images twice to make bigger

The contradictory statements from Peverel

First effort:

Q: Can you give precise details why Peverel Retirement had health and safety concerns about the pool?

A: We can confirm that the pool was not drained at any point and has now reopened. The welfare of our residents is our upmost priority and following a review of the swimming pool in accordance with guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the decision was taken to temporarily close the swimming pool.  After consultation with the residents and the implementation of new safety measures, the pool has now reopened.

We consulted with residents on changing the depth of the pool and provided costings for this work. Residents confirmed that they were happy to keep the pool at its current depth.

Q: Have any accidents ever been recorded there?

A: We do not have any recorded accidents concerning the swimming pool at Briary Court.

Q: Apart from indicating the depths of the shallow and deep end, is Peverel wishing to introduce any other health and safety features to the pool area of Briary Court, or is this issue closed

A: In accordance with guidance from the HSE, there will now be clear instructions around the pool area plus an emergency call button linking to CarelineUK. Signage around the pool will state that a responsible adult should be present when children are swimming.

Q: Did Peverel propose making the swimming pool area more shallow, and were costings obtained for this work? 

A: We consulted with residents to see if they wanted the depth of the pool to be altered and provided costs for this work for residents to review.  Residents confirmed they are happy with the other changes we are implementing to safeguard pool users and chose not to alter the depth of the pool.

Q: Are the assessments of Peverel’s health and safety manager, which will obviously have cost implications and generate revenue for Peverel owing to the administration involved, open to outside scrutiny and confirmation by health and safety experts of the residents’ choosing?

A: Regular health and safety assessments are included as part of our management fee and Peverel Group does not receive any additional income for this. We discussed and agreed all options and associated costs with residents.

Q: Is there a procedure for this?

A: All of our staff are required to adhere to our Health and Safety policy.  Health and safety assessments are an important part of our management of developments.

–       ENDS   –


Second effort:

To be attributed to a Peverel Retirement spokesperson

A health and safety audit was required for the swimming pool at Briary Court. The audit raised concerns relating to the latest HSE guidance (Health and Safety Guidance 179) which required changes to be made to protect users. While our staff gathered options and costings for introducing measures to resolve these concerns, the pool was temporarily closed.

While the pool was closed for health and safety reasons, we took the opportunity to carry out a deep clean, which required the pool to be drained twice to remove cleaning chemicals. This will therefore prevent the need to shut the pool again at a later date.

Residents were invited to a meeting with our Area Manager, House Manager and Health and Safety Manager to discuss options to ensure the pool could be used safely.

All options including altering the depth of the pool, clear signage, and new safety equipment were discussed with residents to ensure they fully understood all associated costs and possible risks.  After consultation with the residents, it was agreed that the depth of the pool would not be altered and other safety measures would be implemented. These measures include clearly marking the depth of the pool, safety floats and the addition of an emergency call button.

We were informed that on occasion, children swim in the pool when visiting residents. This was highlighted by the health and safety audit as an important concern and it was agreed with residents that children aged 15 and under should be supervised at all times and that there should be a limit of three children per adult.

With these necessary safety measures in place, residents and visitors can enjoy the pool safely.

–       ENDS   –


  1. Who are the management team that run this development? it seems that things have been undertaken by persons, who one would think were professional and qualified?

    The H &S issues may be genuine, but are they in the correct context that was intended?

    As a previous H & S Consultant who undertook Risk Assessments for most industries, this has on first viewing, seems typical of someone who has limited training?

    Has the H &S person any qualifications such as a NEBOSH Certificate or a Diploma or a H & S Degree or even IOSH Certification.

    Of course as Peverel Retirement Division are involved, then this is par for the course.

    Is Cardinus any way involved in the Risk Assessment and has it been answered by Customer Relations Senior Manager C.O.

    Has any one Asked Janet a Question, as this had been set up by Janet when she first became CEO and now is invisible?

    We now understand that this was purely a PR exercise, on behalf of Chamonix and Electra including Peverel Retirement Division and Peverel Services Ltd.

    There is a huge group of people who do nothing else but deflect questions and refuse to answer, what was asked.

    It has been said in other comments that, Peverel Group allowed £7m for the cock ups.

    The Area Managers are paid pittance and have over 30 developments each so are always Fire Fighting?

    Having spoken to commenters recently, it is a shame that those administrators and some Area Managers who are placed in an insidious position between working or not, allows companies like Peverel Retirement to continue to provide such a poor and expensive service.

  2. Sebastian I am unable to leave comments?

  3. I had to repeat the comment twice and it still is not shown, Why.

  4. One of my beliefs in life is that the truth remains the truth. Only a lie can unravel.
    The story of the swimming pool is so typical of Peverel. They say they are doing something and give the reason for doing it. When challenged they change the reason. This applies to everything from decorating contracts to the appointment of connected companies to insurance claims to selling of retirement properties, to purchasing “discount” heaters, to accounts, to broken down lifts, to claiming from the NHBC to repair flooded underground car parks. The list is endless.
    This is why Peverel are not trusted. It is one thing for Peverel to take an action that residents do not agree with. It is quite another for Peverel to take an action and mislead residents as to the reason for the action.
    I remember, years ago i discovered my property manager misled me over a repair to a £100 kerbstone(which ironically was a no cost repair as my local council readily agree to pay for). At that stage i had no idea what kind of company Peverel was. It was a neighbour of mine who said to me “If Peverel lied about this, what else have they been lying about?”
    That is when we started looking. And that is when it all started to unravel.

  5. On the other hand if someone did have a heart attack or child harmed, and they had in hand that RA expressing concerns but had not yet acted, the story might have been very different.

    The real issue here is the style high handed approach and failure to engage properly with residents that could have materially changed the attitude of residents. This mob never learn ……

  6. Hmmm. Yes, I agree with the comments on lying and cover-ups. We never get straight answers when questioning the annual accounts.

    We’ve had no WRITTEN (only verbal) confirmation so far that the NHBC has agreed to meet the full claim costs of repairing the underground car park. And the Peverel senior area manager is trying to avoid facing all the residents at a full meeting when he comes here on 12 November; he wants to meet residents individually. Why? What about the Peverel Charter on openness and transparency? I’m really beginning to think we could have been lied to over this? But I hope not…

  7. Michael Epstein says

    It is to be hoped that adults are sensible enough to supervise children in any swimming pool.
    Should an adult suffer a fatal heart attack it would be of benefit to the freeholder that had been part of Peverel. If that sounds obscene, that is because it is.
    Not many residents are aware that counted in the “assets and future income”” the freeholder (Tchenguiz Family Trust) secured loans against was a calculation on how many residents would die, meaning exit fees would have to be paid.

    • OTOH, “Child Drowns in Peveral Pool” is a likely headline, with pictures of distraught parent ” no lifeguard, it’s “pafetik” ”. What we expect out of common sense is not what the law requires; the landlord must assess and manage risks. Steps have to be taken and some expectation on conduct has to be explicit ( for stupid people) with signs-supervise children, depth warnings etc. That said these risk are not new and we have to ask why in x years the pool since the pool opened, why these were not identified and addressed earlier? The idea of “slippery staircases” as drownable pools goes beyond realistically cynical to bizarre, sorry.

  8. sebastian four comments now censored?

  9. Friends,
    Briary Court in the Isle of Wight had its swimming pool closed arbitrary on grounds of Health & Safety.
    It seems that the depth of the pool is now a problem?
    Peverel H&S Manager, discovered during an Audit that the depth of the pool is now over 1.5m deep and closed the pool.
    Peverel put out 2 contradictory statements regarding the closing of the pool:-

    Statement 1
    The pool was closed until measures are in place to reduce the risk to pool users. We can confirm that the pool was not drained at any point and has now reopened.

    Statement 2
    Whilst the pool was closed – we drained the pool twice.

    After checking the HSG 179 3rd

  10. Continuation of Briary Court

    The HSG 179 3rd Ed 2003 on page 5 of118 it states:

    The regulations do not apply to:-

    Private Swimming Pools in domestic premises, whilst being used solely by owner, family or guests.
    Was this pool open to the public and paying customers or as stated in the regulations?


    How old is the development and why only now has the depth become a problem, and why has it not been signed regarding depth and had no proper safety equipment over that period of time.

    Why only now has this become a problem?

    Could it be that the failed introduction of a Fire Safety Upgrade costing £70,000.00 was rejected by residents and this is how Peverel Management respond, surely not?

    • No sadly it’s not, as the extract refers to a pool in a back garden conservatory etc. The common areas of a block are defined in law as non domestic premises. The landlord must assess and manage the risks. Peveral seem to excel in doing so in a self destructive high handed manner when dealing with residents. I agree that the RA is sadly lacking in good advice and it is not a new issue in a building however old,and should have come to light earlier. Unsupervised pools in blocks are not knew and there are clear long etablished ways to deal with them.

  11. Friends
    The Briary Court swimming pool which was arbitrary closed by Peverel Area Manager (AM) and her Health and Safety Manager (HSM) was a typical blunder made by this company.

    From the notices seen the AM has a BSc with (hons) and a DipPsych which means she has good academic qualification, but has shown poor judgment.

    Do we know what qualification the HSM has, is it NEBOSH Diploma or IOSH qualifications and or similar?

    The closing of the pool because the depth has now been discovered after a Safety Audit (SA) is this the first SA that has been undertaken?

    It seems that the way forward now is no longer to fill in the pool to change it depth, WHICH COULD HAVE COST UP TO £10, 000.00.
    But to supply and fit Signage and Safety Equipment regarding :-

    Clearly, marking the deep end and shallow end
    No running or diving signs
    A new Emergency Call Button
    Safety Floats

    I would not be surprised That Peverel will not put up a sign stating CARE THE WATER IS WET?

    I wonder which Peverel Company will be used to provide the New Emergency Call Button, surely not Cirrus, who is part of the Price Fixing Scandal and a Sister Company of Peverel Retirement Division.

  12. Looking at the picture, depth signs should have been in place at construction, I can’t see any, and given the age of likely users and the attendant health risks a floating panic line(s) ( where required eg deep end) provided if there are going to be sole users( eg early risers), and there are no site staff to keep an eye on duty.

  13. Briary Court Swimming Pool Continued:-

    Part of the second effort by Peverel Retirement to explain the closure of the pool stated.

    “The audit raised concerned relating to the LATEST HSE GUIDANCE HSG 179 WHICH REQUIRED CHANGES TO BE MADE TO PROTECT USERS.

    This Guidance was first introduced I believe in 1999, and updated in 2003 as the Third Edition so why has the audit only just picked this up, who was doing the previous Risk Assessments???