Town councillors launch bid to reverse ‘unfair’ price increase for young Sidmouth swimmers

Sidmouth Swimming Pool. Picture: Alex Walton. Ref shs 4006-24-13AW

Sidmouth Swimming Pool. Picture: Alex Walton. Ref shs 4006-24-13AW - Credit: Archant

A bid to slash ‘unfair’ new charges affecting youngsters who use Sidmouth Swimming Pool has been launched by town councillors.

A letter voicing the concerns of members will be sent to district chiefs in a bid to have the price increase reversed, it was agreed this week.

The Herald previously reported how Sidmouth parents will be forced to potentially fork out hundreds of pounds extra a year because of the changes, which came into effect in May.

At the town council’s latest meeting, members agreed to send representations to East Devon District Council and to invite LED Leisure, which runs the pool, to a future meeting to discuss the increase, which affects three- and four-year-olds.

Previously, children under the age of five swam for free at the pool, in Ham Lane, but now they will have to pay £2.65 a swim – or £20.61 a month.

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Last week, an LED Leisure spokeswoman said the increase accommodates the new living wage and a rise in the price of supplies.

She had also said that free lessons were still offered to children below the age of three with an accompanying adult with a membership. The spokeswoman has since clarified that this is in fact not the case at Sidmouth - and only in Exmouth - but LED was working to make prices the same across the board.

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Councillor Michael Earthey told colleagues on Monday: “I don’t think it is fair that parents are being penalised to teach their children to swim in the town. We are a seaside town.

“Why strictly under fives? Why have they got to pay? Surely they should be taught to swim as soon as possible?

“Parents are doing the right thing in getting their children to learn to swim and be confident in the water and now they are going to charge them an extra £200.

“Children up to the age of five have to go with a parent who has not only got to pay for their child, but their own subscription or entry.

“This is an affluent town, but there will be some people that this will be the final straw for, which will mean they won’t be able to take their children.”

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