Free Swimming for the under 16’s & Over 60’s – Finally!

Pensioners and children in Corby could soon be entitled to free swimming.
The international-sized swimming pool at Westcott Way could adopt a scheme of free-entry for under-16s and over-60s after councillors agreed to apply for Government funding from a pot designed to encourage people to visit their swimming pools more often.

Corby Council will also ask the Government to help pay some of the building costs towards the pool as part of the same scheme.

Minister for culture, media and sport Andy Burnham has invited local authorities across the country to bid for cash from the pot and applications have to be with the department by the middle of September.

Corby Council’s head of service, culture and leisure Chris Stephenson said: “The proposal to introduce a phased programme of free swimming for all is an exciting and commendable national initiative.

“It links well with the main driver for building the new Corby pool to provide a first class facility for fitness, fun and for exercising which also assists in combating the existing poor health statistic in Corby.”

In 2007/8, there were 11,484 under-16 visitors to the pool and 8,319 over-60s – earning the council £65,000 in entrance fees. The Government grant could be worth about £40,000 per year, meaning the council loses about £26,000 through the scheme. But officers are concerned if they do not take up the offer, swimmers will go to other boroughs where they can swim for free.

They will also be given a one-off £10,000 grant for signing up to the
scheme.

Pool user Malcolm Gartside, 68, said: “I think anything that encourages older people to come to the pool and keep fit is a good thing. Most pensioners can’t afford to go to fancy gyms so they need pools like this to be cheap.”

The council will also lobby the Government to update its funding formula because of Corby’s huge population increase in recent years.

The allocation of grants will be decided on population rather than how many people use the pool, so Corby could lose out because of outdated estimates.

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