Free swims - but why not here?

PUBLISHED: 09:00 28 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:34 10 June 2010

As many people may recall, last summer the Prime Minister said there would be free swimming for the over 60s. Exeter City Council and Mid Devon District Councils, which border East Devon, are having free swimming for the over 60s, as is Bexhill (also a Co

As many people may recall, last summer the Prime Minister said there would be free swimming for the over 60s. Exeter City Council and Mid Devon District Councils, which border East Devon, are having free swimming for the over 60s, as is Bexhill (also a Conservative council) with the second highest retired population (just above East Devon which has the third highest retired population) in the UK. The answer being given by East Devon District Council not to offer free swimming is because there is a shortfall in funding. However that applies to the other three councils I have mentioned. It is interesting that East Devon District Council can find a significant six-figure sum to spend on solicitors to see how they can continue as a local authority, yet not find a smaller sum to benefit the largest sector who voted them in power (ie the over 60s). One could argue that, if East Devon Council looked after this sector, they could have saved spending vast sums on expensive London solicitors. Have they forgotten this old adage: "He who pays the piper calls the tune."Leisure East Devon have stated they cannot afford to lose the existing revenue obtained from the over 60s for swimming. Given that a swim is £4.85 (yes, almost £5 or £100 per annum if you swim three times per week, which, to be beneficial, one needs to do), one can see the problem pensioners have. Let us remember the largest disadvantaged group are currently pensioners - with inflation and falling interest rates, they are suffering. With three swimming pools run by Leisure East Devon, I have worked out that, based on the hours of opening of the swimming pools, the figure they would lose equates to three pensioners per hour! Obviously, the vast majority of over 60s are not swimming in East Devon - they cannot afford! Leisure East Devon's answer to the free swimming for the over 60s is to give them free swimming on two Sundays in 2009. The first one was Sunday, February 1, and the final one is Sunday, November 15.On a positive note, Age Concern Exmouth & District is opening a new information and advice centre in Rolle Street, Exmouth, in a few weeks' time. This has been made possible by the Corporate Sponsorship Scheme started in 2007, currently with 28 professional firms, businesses, college and health practices providing £6,000 of the £10,000 per annum needed for this project. As we cater for the over 50s, this will provide much-needed extra income which will benefit the businesses in Exmouth. As there is a £4,000 shortfall, I am writing over some months to 400 firms, etc in the area. If anyone wishes to contact me on (01395) 271242, I will let you know how you can assist us, as the Corporate Sponsorship Scheme is not just cash but includes goods and services as well as payment if preferred.Graham Martin,Age Concern Exmouth & District,8 New Street, Exmouth.

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