12 June 2015

City’s free swimming scheme thrives

Free swimming for children and young people aged 16 and under is continuing in council-owned pools in Brighton & Hove this year thanks to a partnership deal between the council and their not-for-profit sports facilities management operator, Freedom Leisure.

Brighton & Hove City Council is one of only a few in the country that has continued to offer free swimming for young people aged 16 and under since the government stopped funding the scheme in 2010. The council now pays for it through its public health budget.

The free swimming scheme is thriving in the city, with over 48,000 free swims at council pools between April 2014 and March 2015 – up from nearly 36,000 the year before.

With the council facing budget cuts of around £100m over the next four years, the public health funding has been reduced from £132,000 last year to £108,000 this year.

However, Freedom Leisure, which operates the King Alfred, Prince Regent and St Luke’s pools in the city, has agreed to subsidise the scheme in order that it can continue to operate in exactly the same way.

The council’s lead member for culture and sport, Councillor Alan Robins, said: “It’s vital to encourage today’s young people to take a life-long interest in fitness and healthy lifestyles.   

“It’s great that through our partnership approach with Freedom Leisure so many young people are being encouraged to think about swimming as a great way to have fun and keep fit.”

Freedom Leisure area manager Chris Lovelock said: “Swimming is not just a fun activity that inspires a healthy attitude, it’s a life skill and potential life-saving skill.

“We are only too pleased to subsidise this initiative to ensure children continue to enjoy free swimming at our Brighton & Hove facilities and I hope that parents will make the most of this opportunity and encourage their children to make frequent use of our pools.” ENDS