Row over swimming lessons cost rise

By Harriet Ernstsons Thursday 27 February 2014 Updated: 28/02 09:23

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AN ARGUMENT between councillors has seen a decision to review price hikes for children's swimming lessons reversed.

Leisure chief Coun Phil Mould was encouraged to review the 14.9 per cent increase - from £52.20 to £60 - which will come into force this April but, despite originally agreeing, he later took back his decision.

The row began after Coun Carole Gandy spoke out about the proposed increases at a Redditch Borough Council meeting on Monday (February 24), saying it appeared to contradict the Labour group's commitment to offering free swimming to under-16s.

"I have to ask myself does this not give the impression that you actually consider the value of recreational swimming which is free to be more important than life or death," she said.

"Either you do not consider it's important to get the children of the town swimming or it's a way of ensuring there isn't a great take-up on free swimming.

"I would very much like for the portfolio holder for leisure to take this one item back and reconsider the price rise for junior swimming lessons which I believe is far too great an increase."

Coun David Bush added the increase was a 'raid on the pockets' of parents wanting to teach their children to swim and it was 'disgusting' to place more importance on free swimming than teaching children how to swim.

Initially, Coun Mould said he would take the decision back and compare the prices with neighbouring authorities but Coun Gandy argued they had not looked to other councils when deciding whether to offer free swimming so it was unnecessary to do so now.

Coun Mould said Coun Gandy had let the people of the town down by arguing twice, then when he asked again to reconsider the charges he told her she had already had a response so should 'shut up'.

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