Council centre’s last sunbed to be axed

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LEISURE chiefs are scrapping the last sunbed at a council-owned centre.

Sunderland Council has announced it will remove its last tanning facility after a review of popularity, maintenance and energy costs.

The news came as the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) lambasted councils which continued to provide sunbeds despite their link with cancer.

Councillor Dave Allan, responsible for health, defended the authority’s record on protecting the public’s wellbeing.

“The health and well-being of all of our customers is of paramount importance to us,” he said.

“We are members of the Sunbed Association, and we have a range of procedures which limit use of the sunbed and are in accordance with the association’s guidelines.”

Coun Allan said the council now only had one vertical tanning bed, at the Silksworth Community Pool, Tennis and Wellness Centre.

He said: “However, after a recent review of the popularity of the sunbed and the energy and maintenance costs to operate it, we are now in the process of removing it.”

Sunderland was the focus of a campaign by Cancer Research UK last year, after a recent survey by the charity showed 50 per cent of girls aged 15 to 17 in the city use sunbeds.

An Echo investigation in 2007 found four out of the city council’s then six tanning facilities failed to offer the correct health and safety warnings to an undercover reporter.

The CIEH said councils had a duty to protect and improve public health, but an “astonishing” 30 per cent of councils continued to provide sunbeds and other artificial tanning facilities.

David Kidney, the organisation’s head of policy, said: “Having sunbeds in council leisure facilities premises is like having cigarette vending machines in a hospital. Local authorities have a duty to look after the health of people living in their communities.

“Skin cancer is a significant public health problem in the UK and by using sunbeds people are increasing the risk of contracting skin cancer, damaging their immune system and experiencing premature ageing of the skin.”

Tracey Loftis, public affairs manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “Using sunbeds, even infrequently, damages the skin and increases the risk of malignant melanoma – the most dangerous type of skin cancer.

“We know that people who first use sunbeds before the age of 35 increase their risk of developing melanoma by 75 per cent, and that two young adults are diagnosed with the disease every day in Britain.”

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