Free swimming for 60 to 64-year-olds to be axed by Bolton Council
FREE swimming for thousands of 60 to 64-year-olds in Bolton is being axed to save money.
Charges will also be introduced for over-65s who use early morning “peak time” leisure services.
Bolton Council leader Cliff Morris said: “This was extra money the government gave us.
“If we could have kept it running we would have liked to but we can’t at the end of the day.”
Free swimming for under-17s and over-65s was introduced in 2007 and extended to include the over-60s in 2009 using a combination of council cash and the remains of government grant funding the authority was awarded for 2010 to 2012.
But as part of efforts to make savings of £50,000, from next Monday, free swimming for 60 to 64-year-olds at Bolton’s community leisure centres will be axed and charges of £3.30 will be introduced.
Swimmers will still be eligible for 50 per cent leisure card reductions if they are on a low income or benefits.
The council said 18,000 people in the 60 to 64 age group used the swimming facilities last year.
From November 4, changes will also be introduced for people aged 65 and over who currently get free use of leisure facilities, but only during the peak period before 9.30am.
A council report said the move had been introduced partly to free up leisure facilities which are currently at full capacity due to increased use.
Cllr Morris, said: “The over 65s can get it and it’s most important for children.
“I’m disappointed for them, but people are still working at that age and there will still be concessions available.”
Gareth Evans, chief officer of Age UK Bolton, said: “Clearly it’s disappointing for those that have benefited from it, but knowing the financial hardship the authority is facing, it is good to know that it is being retained for those in the 65-plus age group.”
A council spokesman added: “The council must make further savings of £40 million, which is on top of £60 million of savings made since 2010.
“We have subsidised free swimming and free leisure activities since 2009 but as a result of the cuts we have to make, we are no longer in a position where we can continue to fund the full range of free activities.
“We are maintaining free swimming for under-17s and those 65 and over, and we will continue to offer up to 50 per cent discount for leisure card users.”
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