A council has been fined £27,000 after a deadly bacteria outbreak at one of its leisure centres nearly killed a resident.

At Colchester Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, Tendring Council admitted breaching health and safety legislation after a Legionella outbreak at Walton Leisure Centre in 2016.

Pensioner Graham Leach, then 68, was lucky to escape alive after contracting Legionnaire’s disease and the council’s procedures for preventing outbreaks were found to be outdated at Walton, Clacton and Dovercourt leisure facilities.

A victim impact statement from Mr Leach was read where he described how the illness had a serious affect on both his health and his personal life.

He said: “I used to go fishing and my hobby was model making but since I came out of hospital I have lost all interest in doing these things.

“I was sociable and used to go to the pub but I do not go out much. I do not see my friends as much as I used to.”

Matthew Taylor, prosecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive, said the council’s procedures were not up to scratch for detecting the bacteria.

He said: “The council’s reports lacked detail and did not contain information they should have contained.

“The investigation found there were times when temperature controls noted a problem, but no one was competent enough to identify there was a problem or pass it up the chain.

He added: “You would absolutely expect the council to be familiar with the risks of Legionella in water systems and know how to deal with stopping the risks.”

The council says it has spent £190,000 on a comprehensive review at not only its leisure centres, but its offices, since the outbreak.

Deanna Heer, mitigating, expressed sincere apologies on behalf of the council to residents for what happened.

She said: “The council did take some steps to minimise the risk. However the approach of the council led to the result of the outbreak, which was caused by an overestimation of those who were managing the risk and an underestimation of what was required to manage that risk.”

District Judge John Woollard ordered the council to pay a fine of £27,000 and costs of £7,194.19.

He said this amount would have been ten times as high if the taxpayer were not the ones footing the bill.

"The people who would suffer if I impose a huge fine are the very people who were at risk of being infected with Legionella," he said.