THERE will be no celebration today to mark a decade of free swimming for Inverclyde’s over-60s — the 10-year anniversary of that initiative happens to coincide with its demise.
From today (1 April 2018), the district’s over-60s have to start paying again to use local pools after the council cut the scheme’s funding to Inverclyde Leisure as part of measures to close it’s budget gap.
Council documents show that it cost £62,000 a year to provide the benefit and that cutting it is expected to generate £15,000 a year in income.
Inverclyde Now reported the start of the scheme in 2008, when John Higgins, chief executive of Inverclyde Leisure at the time, said: “I am delighted that Inverclyde Council is leading the way in Scotland with this free swimming health initiative. It will improve the quality of life, health and wellbeing of the people of Inverclyde, helping to build the image and reputation of the area.”
The council point to results from their budget consultation earlier this year in which 56 per cent of respondents agreed over-60s should now have to pay for swimming.
Local politics made no difference to the decision as the cut was proposed in the SNP’s opposition budget as well as the joint one from Labour, the independent, Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors.
Free swimming for children remains.