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72-73 FREE SWIMMING:SPN Master pages 19/11/08 09:04 Page 3
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“Regretfully I recommend we accept the
decision that we can’t proceed with this
particular initiative,” said Cllr Peter Adams,
portfolio holder for leisure.
Hambleton claim the initiative would
see the authority losing at least £53,000
in income a year – and possibly even
more should the scheme get more
people swimming.
Under the plan Hambleton was offered a
grant of £31,000 a year over the next two
years to offer over-60s free swimming at all
sessions. The council asked the
Government to increase the grant to cover
its costs – but has now been told that is
not possible as all allocations have been
calculated based on population. Last year
Hambleton’s four pools – in Northallerton,
Thirsk, Stokesley and Bedale – logged
56,000 visits by people over the age of 60.
WHY THEY SAID NO
“The grant may sound generous but in
reality it will cost us £53,000 in lost income,” RYEDALE, YORKSHIRE: “Common sense is telling me that it would be remiss of me to
said cabinet member Ralph Andrew. accept this as it is ill-thought out from the Government’s point of view.”
“And there was no indication as to how
we were supposed to sustain free HAMBLETON, SURREY: “There was no indication as to how we were supposed to
swimming after the initial two years. sustain free swimming after the initial two years.”
Sheffield Council said no because they say
the city has only been allocated £370,000 a POOLE, DORSET: “There will be an estimated £52,000 shortfall for each of the first two
year which would not cover the £1.1m it years which we just cannot afford.”
would cost pools in lost payments.
Nearby local authorities have signed up EXETER: “It is in any case difficult to make commitments at this stage when budget
to the scheme – including Doncaster, priorities for the coming two years have not been agreed.”
Rotherham, Barnsley and North East
Derbyshire District Council. SHEFFIELD: Only allocated £370,000 a year which would not cover the £1.1m it would
Labour leader Cllr Jan Wilson said: cost pools in lost payments.
“Nearly 85% of councils in England will be
opening up their pools for free use in just BIRMINGHAM: ”If I started funding club sessions they could come down on me and
six months time and Sheffielders will be take the money away.”
missing out. It’s absolutely outrageous.”
Scotland’s free swim scheme blossoms
In Scotland the current free swimming scheme was used by nearly a quarter of a million
children last year.
It has been an outstanding success in getting children into pools but also getting
teenagers to take part in more intense training sessions.
Now a £50m plan to ensure the benefits of Scotland’s Commonwealth Games are felt
for generations has been handed in with swimming at the forefront of the ambitions.
Top of Glasgow’s separate wish list is a £15m plan to extend the offer of unlimited free
access for all under-16s to sport and recreational activities provided by councils.
A further £10m would create a network of new sports clubs in poorer parts of the city.
FREE SWIM NUMBERS FALL IN WALES
The number of youngsters taking a free in Wrexham over the summer holiday period,
swim under a Welsh Assembly an increase in both free swimming sessions
Government scheme has plunged by and structured sessions of nearly 10%.“
190,000 in four years. An evaluation of the free swimming
Official figures showed the number of initiative by the Sport Council for Wales
under-16s using the scheme fell from this year concluded more than half of
807,838 in 2004/5 to 618,344 in 2007/8. children in Wales aged between 10 and 14
The initiative was launched in March participated in free swimming sessions. But
2003 as a pilot and was expanded across participation in the 16 and under scheme
Wales soon afterwards. peaked in 2004-05, it said.
In Wrexham, where the numbers fell from A Government spokesperson said: “We
51,564 to 25,622, Alan Watkin, Chief Leisure have shifted our focus to making sure confidence in the water so that it
Officer said: “Current figures show, certainly children can swim and develop becomes a life long habit.” spn
Visit our website at www.swimmingpoolnews.co.uk DECEMBER 08 swimming pool news 73
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