Government short-changes B&NES residents over free swimming – again

The Government has been slammed for short-changing residents of Bath and North East Somerset yet again after it was revealed that it has failed to properly fund under-16’s free swimming two years in a row.

Figures released this week show a massive shortfall in funding for free children’s swimming for the second year running. At a meeting of Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet this week, it was revealed that the Government is willing to fund less than half the cost of its flagship swimming scheme.

The Labour Government came in for criticism last year after B&NES Council was unable to implement free under-16’s swimming due to a similar funding shortfall. The cost to make swimming free at council leisure centres for all under-16’s is estimated to be £230,500 a year. However, the Government has offered less than £95,000.

Conservatives in Bath and North East Somerset have criticised the Government for failing to address the massive funding shortfall for the second year running and are calling for the scheme to be properly funded.

Cllr Terry Gazzard, B&NES Cabinet Member in charge of Leisure, commented:

“It is shameful that the Labour Government has short-changed local residents yet again. Young people in our area are losing out on free swimming because the Government is refusing to properly fund the scheme.

“The Government continually tries to pass the financial buck on to hard-pressed council-tax payers. Conservatives proposed making the scheme more flexible so that the small amount of funding on offer could be used to give free swimming to those on low incomes.

“We wrote to the Minister with this reasonable request but it was denied. Now the Government has failed to fund the scheme a second year running.”