22 September 2010

Lambeth Labour fights back at Conservative / Lib Dem swimming cuts

In a fight back against the ConDem cuts to Labour’s free swimming programme for children and older people, Lambeth Labour along with leisure provider GLL have negotiated subsidised swimming meaning that all under 16s and over 60s can enjoy a dip in pool for just £1.

In a series of cruel cuts being enforced by the government free swimming was struck off in June this year to coincide with the summer break from schools leaving many children and parents worried about the impact this will have on them. However Lambeth kept free swimming throughout the summer holidays until schools reopened and have now managed to find a way for children and older people to swim at a subsidised rate. The over 60’s will be able to get a “Real Plus” pay as you go membership card for free before the 13th October which qualifies them for a discounted swimming session at just £1, as well as other discounts of upto 55 per cent at Lambeth Leisure Centres. Under 16’s will also be able to swim for £1 with a “Real Plus” card, which will be automatically issued to those already registered on the previous ‘free swim’ scheme.

Cllr Florence Nosegbe, Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and the 2012 Games, said: “We are extremely disappointed with the coalition government’s announcement to scrap the free swimming from July this year, weeks before the start of the school holidays. This scheme was popular with young people and elderly residents and encouraged them to enjoy a new sport. The Coalition Government claim that they are committed to delivering an Olympic legacy but the decision to cut the funding for a scheme which benefited over 20million people across the country and received endorsement from Olympic Swimmers is very short sighted. I call on Mayor Johnson to defend London’s Olympic legacy and provide funding to help keep our residents swimming.’

The loss of the grant funding at a time when we are already facing a real term reduction of about 30% in funding means that we simply cannot afford to provide free swimming any longer. For the council to wholly subsidise the free swimming scheme would simply not be affordable in the current climate, but by offering swims for £1, we are making sure that a trip to the pool remains a cheap day out for families and a great way of promoting healthy living and combating obesity.”