Free swims despite cuts

A SUFFOLK leisure centre will continue to provide free swimming for pensioners and youngsters despite the policy being axed in the latest Government cutbacks.

Free swimming was launched two years ago by the previous government and had been guaranteed until at least March 2011.

Without Government backing, many authorities, including cash-strapped Babergh District Council, have stopped the service for the over 60s and under 16s but Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre has announced it will continue to offer free swimming sessions.

Warren Smyth, chief executive of Abbeycroft Leisure, who manage the leisure centre, said he understood why the scheme had been cancelled in the current economic climate but he did not want people already on the scheme to miss out.

He said: “The scheme has encouraged many people who could not swim and those who had not swum for many years to return to the pool and we want to encourage that as much as possible.

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“Although we can’t offer as many sessions as the Government-backed scheme allowed us to provide before, we think that providing sessions three times a week will allow people to continue to enjoy swimming.”

After the Government backed out of the scheme, Babergh announced it would be scrapping free swimming at the Kingfisher pool, in Sudbury, and Hadleigh swimming pool.

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Nick Ridley, Babergh’s strategy committee chairman, said the council would be using its own funds to ensure the scheme ran through to the end of August.

From August 1, Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre will offer free swimming three times a week.

In addition, any child registered on the West Suffolk Swim Scheme will be able to access 15 casual swimming sessions each term.

For more information about free swimming call the leisure centre on 01284 753496 or go to

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