PLUG PULLED ON FREE SWIMS

CASH strapped East Dunbartonshire Council has slashed free swimming for pensioners, full-time students and those on a low income.

Until recently, anyone aged over 60, in full time education or receiving income support, carer’s allowance or other benefits was entitled to free swimming with a Passport to Leisure card.

But budget cuts have put an end to that, meaning those eligible will now only get a £1 discount at the Allander Leisure centre in Bearsden - so a swim will cost a Passport to Leisure holder £1.50, or £1.20 if they buy a block of 10.

P6 pupils also used to get free swimming lessons as part of the school curriculum but this was stopped in June 2009 under previous budget cuts.

A few schools have since arranged sessions with leisure centres directly and funded it themselves through the PTA or alternative sources instead of the council. However many children are now missing out on learning how to swim.

One angry local mum, who used to be entitled to a Passport to Leisure and regularly attends the Allander Leisure centre, said: “I don’t know why the council would cut back something so important.

“Learning to swim is a vital life skill, why should children be denied this?

“It is very expensive for a whole family to go for a swim now, even with the discount.”

Mark Grant, leisure and cultural services manager at East Dunbartonshire’s Leisure and Culture Trust, said: “In light of the ongoing financial challenges faced by all public sector bodies, the council agreed to remove free swimming from the Passport to Leisure holders.

“This change came into effect in April and the those affected by it were informed at the time.”