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Free swimming in Lib Dem Eastleigh not Tory Southampton

November 24, 2008 12:00 PM
Quays Swimming without council backing for free swimming

Quays Swimming without council backing for free swimming

From next April, under 16s and over 60s will be able to swim for FREE at Fleming Park Leisure Centre, thanks to Eastleigh Borough Council deciding to take part in a national scheme to boost fitness for young and old alike. Unfortunately the good people of neighbouring Southampton are not so fortunate, because the Conservative run City Council there has decided not to take part.

However other Hampshire authorities will provide the benefit of free swimming in local pools and will participate in the free swimming scheme including Portsmouth, Fareham and Gosport. It is part of a Government initiative to encourage health and fitness ahead of the Olympics. It is to Southampton's great shame that they are not taking part in free swimming for the under 16s.

Commenting of the Southampton City council decision Lib Dem group leader councillor Jill Baston said: "This is a backward step. On the one hand the Conservatives are saying how keen they are to increase activities for young people then they are making these cuts."

And Southampton Itchen's PPC David Goodall added :-

"This is a good scheme to try and encourage young people to be fitter and healthier, yet even with Government funding to back the scheme this city council refuse to back it and prefer instead to back their own pet projects."

Eastleigh Lib Dems Chris Huhne MP and Cabinet lead for leisure Cllr Alan Broadhurst

Southampton's Lib Dem MP Sandra Gidley has taken the issue of funding for swimming to parliament and back in June asked Jim Knight the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what guidance he has issued to education authorities on the funding of school swimming pools in the last five years. After this clear guidance to local authorities was given with the funded scheme to back free swimming the problem in Southampton is just that the ruling Conservative elite have not followed this guidance.

Meanwhile is neighbouring Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne visited Fleming Park leisure centre to welcome the new scheme to introduce free swimming for the young and the old. All those under 16 and over 60 years old will be able to swim for free in Eastleigh Borough Council's pool at Fleming Park starting in April. Chris was shown around by Cabinet member for leisure Cllr Alan Broadhurst, who introduced the scheme.

On visiting the pool Chris said:-

"I'm delighted that Eastleigh is one of the Hampshire authorities introducing free swimming for the old and the young in its pools. Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise for keeping fit. It is particularly good for the heart as it exercises virtually all parts of the body, and it is great for the elderly as well as the young because it does not put any stress on joints unlike jogging".

And Cllr Alan Broadhurst added :-

"Early indications suggest that this is going to be a very popular scheme which should bring in a lot of the young and old alike"

Chris Huhne has taken a keen interest in community health. He participated this year in the Eastleigh 10 kilometre road race to raise money for the Mayor's charity appeal, finishing in less than an hour.