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Wigan Council pulls plug on free swimming scheme it pioneered
5:10pm Friday 8th March 2013 in News
FREE swimming sessions for young and old will cease next month.
From April 8 the concessions for those aged 16 and under and 65 and over at leisure venues throughout Wigan Borough will end.
When the scheme was launched in 2005, with the aim of increasing levels of physical activity in young people, it was the first time such a project had been funded by a local authority in England.
Wigan Council and NHS Ashton, Leigh and Wigan have decided to withdraw funding for free sessions, currently provided by Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust at its leisure centres.
It costs £106,000 to run with funding shared equally between Wigan Council and the NHS.
Cllr Chris Ready, Wigan's Cabinet Member for Leisure, said: “This has been a very difficult decision, but reluctantly we have to make sure all of our resources are targeted towards the most vulnerable people in society.
"Together with our NHS partners we continued to fund free swimming despite the government withdrawing the nationally funded scheme in 2010.”
“We are very proud that we were the first to fund such a scheme, but evidence from recent years shows that the people we wanted to encourage to swim were not making use of it as much as we would have liked.
"We have provided excellent new sports facilities such as at the Wigan Life Centre and Leigh Sports Village and we have a new strategy in place to help support community groups, sports clubs and other initiatives, ensuring that people have lots of opportunities to be fit and active.”