TWO councils are continuing to profit from sunbeds despite a link between their use and skin cancer.
Flintshire and Wrexham are still providing sunbed sessions at council-run leisure centres and neither have any immediate plans to remove the beds.
In March it emerged four councils were profiting from sunbeds, despite a commitment to improving their populations’ health and wellbeing.
The majority of Welsh councils had stopped running sunbeds because of the risk to people’s health.
Anglesey Council took the lead to scrap the facilities in 2003 after Professor Brian Diffey, from Newcastle General Hospital, warned up to 100 people could be dying every year from skin cancer caused by artificial UV exposure.
Carmarthenshire Council last night confirmed that it removed sunbeds from three of its leisure centres at the beginning of April.
And the Vale of Glamorgan council will tomorrow start the process of removing five sunbeds from its leisure centres.
Wrexham has five sunbeds. In March a spokeswoman for the county said: “We have five sunbeds and we continue to run them to meet public demand.
“The use of the beds is strictly controlled.” Yesterday the county said its position had not changed since March.
In March Flintshire council confirmed it does run sunbeds but would not comment further, and yesterday said the position had not changed.
Councillors are expected to recommend the move to the council’s cabinet – the Vale earns £15,000 a year from the beds.
The move comes as binge tanning and the popularity of sunbeds has been blamed for an increase in skin cancer.
The number of people with the more serious form of the disease – malignant melanoma – has reached record levels.
Julie Barratt, director of the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health in Wales, said: “Local authorities should be leading on health protection.
“We would hope that, in the light of recent cases of children suffering burns from using sunbeds, councils will remove sunbeds from their leisure centres.”
Carmarthenshire Council removed sunbeds from St Clears, Newcastle Emlyn and Llandovery Pool last month as it had planned to do.
The Vale of Glamorgan Council said its u-turn on providing sunbeds had been prompted by the recent case of Kirsty McRae, who was hospitalised after suffering 70% burns from a sunbed.
Although the girl had used a privately-run and unmanned tanning salon, her case helped to highlight the risks of sunbeds.
Councillor Anthony Ernest, the Vale’s executive member for leisure and tourism, said: “Given the increased publicity due to recent events, a review of our current policy on sunbeds had already commenced, and I had already given my own approval, several weeks ago, for the process of removal of sunbeds from each of our leisure centres.”
Dr Richard Lewis, Welsh Secretary of the British Medical Association, said: “We welcome this move by Carmarthenshire Council to take sunbeds out of leisure centres in the area, if they are unable to appropriately monitor and supervise them.
“We have always called for the tanning industry to be properly regulated, under the introduction of a Welsh law.
“By such measures, we will be going along way towards preventing people in Wales, suffering permanent skin damage, such as happened recently with a number of youngsters in South Wales.”
Figures released by Cancer Research UK yesterday revealed the number of UK cases of malignant melanoma had risen to more than 10,000 (see panel).