Letter: Swimming price hike is justified

I READ with interest Andrew Hoyle's "Daddy Cool" column (Spectrum, 5 December). As a parent myself, I agree wholeheartedly that encouraging our children to learn to swim at a young age is crucial. Swimming has so many benefits to the health and wellbeing of young people and their families.

In 2003, Edinburgh Leisure became one of the first leisure trusts in the country to introduce free swimming to all primary school children. Although this initially boosted primary school swimming levels at our venues, there was no long-term sustained increase shown. This mirrored the impact of free swimming in other local authorities across Scotland. Despite primary school swimming being free for seven years, attendance has not improved as a result. It must, therefore, be accepted that price is not the key barrier to participation for this group.

As a not for profit charity, Edinburgh Leisure must match reductions in council funding levels by changes to our business plan. I believe that the decision to introduce a fair charge for primary age children to swim is preferable to the alternative of severely reducing or removing leisure services from specific parts of the city.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

We will continue to offer free swimming to all children under five and children (under 13 years) of families who currently hold a concession leisure card which is available to those on low income, job seekers and disability allowance. We also offer family swim prices at all of our swimming pools.

While we face the same financial pressures as most organisations that rely on public funding, our commitment remains to ensure as many people as possible in Edinburgh become active and stay healthy.

John Comiskey, chief executive, Edinburgh Leisure