Free swimming axed - 'Most will see £2 a swim as reasonable'

THE axing of free swimming sessions for the city's primary school kids is more than just a blow for those families who will now have to stump up £2 a time.

It is one of the surest signs yet that the cuts which are coming in during these times of austerity cannot always be designed to protect the most needy and some services we have come to take for granted.

Young children haven't had to pay to use the city's pools for seven years, and parents have been encouraged to use this facility to help them teach their offspring how to swim with confidence. It's also made for a cheap way to have fun as a family.

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Coming after the loss of crches, this latest move by Edinburgh Leisure will therefore be seen by many as short-sighted, fearing it will lead to fewer youngsters being introduced to exercise at a young age.

But, despite the disappointment, there is a need for realism. New Edinburgh Leisure boss John Comiskey was left with a 500,000 funding black hole to fill.

There is a debate still to be had over whether or not its services once again could be better run by the council itself, but that is no short-term solution and savings have to be made.

It is deeply unfortunate that under-12s are affected, but the poorest families still won't pay. And we can only hope that most of the rest will see 2 a swim as a reasonable price to pay and keep taking their kids for a mess about in the water.

Fuel marks on vote

MANY people will be delighted at the last-minute reprieve handed to the 108-year-old Granton gasholder.

It earned its B-listing because it is a landmark and reminder of the area's industrial past, and clearly that swayed councillors who yesterday were asked to allow its demolition.

But saying no to the National Grid's plan to knock it down was the easy part. The harder bit will be finding - and funding - a new role for the iconic structure.

Other attempts over more than a decade have ended in failure and the ironwork is expensive to maintain.

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In the meantime we can just reflect that the gasholder may not be the prettiest thing on the Capital's skyline - but if the new biomass plant chimney at Leith gets the go-ahead it won't be the ugliest either.