Row over free swimming in Rhyl
Denbighshire Council has been slammed for cutting free swimming for the over 60s while bringing in free offers for the users of its SC2 water park.
The number of hours for free swimming will be cut to five a week with other sessions being available at a reduced charge of £2.50 per session.
But the day after announcing the cut the council launched a range of offers for Rhyl’s state of the art new SC2 centre including free swimming for children.
Cynwyd/Llandrillo county councillor, Mabon ap Gwynfor, hit out at the move arguing it was unfair on rate payers in the rest of the county.
He said: “This week we learnt that the the authority were cutting the free swimming lessons
“That in itself is a retrograde step and needs to be challenged.
“However, only a day later the authority announced that they would be continuing with free swimming at the SC2 centre in Rhyl.
“This beggars belief. Denbighshire is more than Rhyl, but sometimes it feels that everything is concentrated there – free summer concerts, air show, large projects.
“We don’t begrudge any of this to Rhyl, and we understand that there are communities in Rhyl suffering deprivation and poverty. But we have pockets of poverty throughout the county, and the people of Corwen and the Dee Valley should be treated equally.
“If we can provide free swimming in the SC2 then we can also provide free swimming in Corwen, Llangollen and elsewhere as well.”
The offers include half price after school sessions in Ninja TAG, a weekend offer of a free game of Ninja TAG when you buy two for only £10, a brand new neon ‘After Dark’ session on a Friday night for over 18s and a free Cybertower game when you buy a waterpark ticket.
There is also a range of offers and discounts on the waterpark, including savings of up to £22 on family tickets, children swim for free.
A spokesman for Denbighshire Leisure said: “We are thrilled with the amazing response we have had over summer and we will it is only right that our local residents and visitors can enjoy this first class facility throughout the autumn and winter months.
“Following feedback from customers we have also moved our waterpark Autism friendly session to a Saturday morning to ensure more people can enjoy the waterpark.”
On ending the free offer for over 60s the council said the Welsh Government was launching a revised scheme for free swimming but the grant to pay for it had been reduced.
Llangollen county councillor, Graham Timms, said: “I was amazed to hear that Denbighshire Leisure were reducing the number of free sessions available for children and over 60s swimming.
“The health and wellbeing of residents is supposed to be one of Denbighshire’s priorities. It seems odd that such a cut in a vital provision is being made without a proper information being considered by the council.”
Cllr Bobby Feeley, Lead Member for Well-being and Independence, said: “We are very disappointed in this reduction and the effect it will have on our programme. We have expressed our dissatisfaction in the strongest terms to Welsh Government and have done our best to negotiate a more favourable outcome, but to no avail.
“The revised initiative will be launched on October 1 and regrettably, we will therefore have no option but to reduce the amount of free swimming activity offered from our leisure centres.”
By Shane Brennan – Local Democracy Reporter
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