COUNCIL officials are proposing major changes to Inverclyde’s provision of free swimming for children.
Under-16s have not had to pay to use Inverclyde Leisure’s pools since 2005.
But the council has cut its budget for the scheme by £100,000 to £80,000.
A report giving options from April indicates that the number of swims by children has gone down even though there is no charge.
It states: “Despite the policy intention of the free swimming, it has in reality not resulted in increased uptake of swimming amongst young people, with approximately 18,000 fewer visits per year in 2018/19 than in 2015/16. (54,934 visits in 2015/16 reducing to 36,914 visits in 2018/19).
“Research undertaken by another authority prior to removing free swimming in 2018 found that the majority of those who took up a free swim would be willing to pay something.”
The preferred option being recommended to councillors is for:
— Free swimming to be provided on Saturdays and Sundays, 9am to 11am, to under-16s resident within Inverclyde
— Outwith that, every under-16 swim would be further subsidised by £2 per swim to bring the cost down to an average of £2.60
— During holidays, a further subsidy of £1 per swim would be paid to Inverclyde Leisure by the council. This would bring the average cost of a swim down to £1.60 for under-16s while schools are off.
This package is expected to cost £107,000, with the extra money being taken from the Grants To Voluntary Organisations budget.
Councillors are due to consider the proposal on 19 January.