Agenda item

Free Swimming Programme (Agenda item 16)

Report of the Executive Member for Communities (Stephen Askew).

Minutes:

The Strategic Director for Services introduced the report which outlined the Departure of Culture and Media and Sports (DCMS) proposal for free swimming as publicly announced in June 2008.  The report detailed the level of grant support available to the Council and the various options that were being proposed.  It also provided an overview of the practical issues relating to the implementation of the scheme and the current position of other districts and their anticipated response to the offer.

 

It was felt that this scheme would make swimming more accessible to the people of Breckland.  The Executive Member for the Communities Portfolio thought it was a great idea but was disappointed that the DCMS had set time limits on its budgets and felt that further time to consider the offer should be requested.

 

The Opposition Leader agreed with the aforementioned comment and asked the Cabinet to request more time.  He also felt that assistance should be offered, not only in swimming, but also for other types of sports.  In response, the PFI Monitoring and Sports Development Officer pointed out that there were a number of other sports initiatives available.

 

The Chief Executive stated that there were many issues that had to be considered.  Tactically and politically it was a very good idea and this was a scheme that Breckland Council should embrace; however, he agreed the funding should not be ring-fenced as it would be difficult to predict the impact it could have on the Council Tax.  He felt that Officers should also be instructed to write to the DCMS expressing Breckland Council’s concern around the two year funding opportunity and the shortness of time to consider this scheme and suggested that a further recommendation be added to incorporate all of the above.

 

The options available were:

 

1)           not to take part in the scheme;

 

2)           to sign up to provide free swimming for people aged 60 and over;

 

3)           to sign up to provide free swimming to people aged 60 and over and submit an expression of interest to provide free swimming to people aged 16 and under.

 

The reason for the recommendation was that this scheme would make swimming more accessible to the residents of Breckland whilst providing an opportunity to increase participation in sport and physical activity.  The health benefits of such a scheme were clear and in addition it would provide a legacy for the Breckfest programme.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1)           the Government grant of £47,574 be accepted to offer free swimming for people aged 60 and over;

 

2)           an expression of interest be submitted to roll out the scheme to people under the age of 16 subject to clarification from the Department of Culture Media and Sports (DCMS) of arrangements for pools managed by third parties; and

 

3)           Officers be instructed to write to the DCMS and express concern over the time given to consider this, the two year funding opportunity and the transfer of the risk of potential overspend to the local authority and its ability to set the Council tax.

 

Supporting documents: