'Free' swims costing your LED in region of £15,000

A CEREAL company promotion, offering free swims nationally, is likely to cost Leisure East Devon around £15,000, writes Di Bowerman.

A CEREAL company promotion, offering free swims nationally, is likely to cost Leisure East Devon around £15,000.The promotion, which began in April, has proved popular, with 5,318 vouchers being accepted at its three pools in Sidmouth, Exmouth and Honiton.But now LED has decided to call it a day and will finish accepting them from Friday, September 19.David Paget, LED's chief executive, said there had been no restrictions on use of the vouchers, which gave one free swim, adult or junior, per voucher.He said Sidmouth had accepted 1,336 vouchers, with 1,045 at Honiton and the most, 2,937, at Exmouth."The standard charge for an adult non-member swim was £4.30 up to September 1 and £2.20 for a junior non-member, so the scheme is likely to have cost LED, a charitable organisation, something in the order of £15,000 to date," he said. "LED's expectation, however, is that those who were encouraged to visit our pools for the first time by the free swim voucher will return after the scheme has ended." Mr Paget said no offer had been made by the cereal company to reimburse any of the costs incurred.The vouchers appeared on packets between April 1 and June 30 and he said: "The scheme has run its course and LED feels it has done its bit!"One of LED's aims is to encourage more people to take part in physical activity and this scheme has certainly helped to increase swimming numbers during the summer - although the weather might also have played its part!"He said LED had offered free swimming for children accompanied by an adult on a number of Sundays during the past year and these free swim days would continue after September 19. Mr Paget said there were some people making money out of the vouchers by selling them on eBay at half the redemption price of a swim.Denise Bickley, from Tyrrell Mead, told the Herald: "It seems a shame that parents taking children can't just use the vouchers up during a particular session when it is very quiet for example."A Kellog's spokeswoman said the promotion was run through the Amateur Swimming Association, which invited pools to participate "to raise the awareness of swimming."She said: "It was never about Kellog's funding swimming but about getting people back into pools and back into swimming and that could have led to secondary sales. "It is about raising the profile of swimming in this country, an activity families can do together."Vouchers went out on 30 million cereal packets and, she said, the company was working with eBay to prevent them being sold on its website.l What do you think? Email peter.leriche@archant.co.uk with your views.

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