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Free swimming lessons for disadvantaged children

Disadvantaged children across Bath and North East Somerset will benefit from free swimming lessons.

At a meeting of Bath and North East Somerset Council's cabinet, the budget for 2010/2011 was discussed, with ruling councillors allocating £25,000 to be invested in free swimming for disadvantaged children. This will be added to contributions of £15,000 from the Amateur Swimming Association and sports centre operator Aquaterra Leisure, making a total of £40,000.

Children's services cabinet member Councillor Chris Watt said: "Bath and North East Somerset Council provides a wide range of services and projects for children and young people, like targeted schemes at our leisure centres and extended services through schools, of which the youth service is just one.

"The council's long-term aspiration is to deliver improved youth provision that targets its efforts on improving the lives of vulnerable young people, and helping community groups to provide positive activities for young people."

The swimming scheme is likely to target children entitled to free school meals but the council has refused to implement a full free swimming programme for all youngsters.

The Government wants all councils to provide free swimming for all children but B&NES says ministers have not provided enough money to make the scheme work.

Mr Watt said: "Providing free swimming for disadvantaged children meets our priority of ensuring that all children in B&NES have best possible chances in life. As local government finances become increasingly tight in the coming years, it's vital that we target our limited resources at those in greatest need and empowering local communities."

Cllr. Malcolm Hanney, Cabinet Member for Resources, said, “We need to maximise efficiencies, charge fairly where appropriate, prioritise resources to meet short and long term objectives, make difficult decisions to balance the books, and have an acceptable level of Council tax increase for our residents. It makes no sense to put off making difficult decisions - we need to live within the means of our residents tomorrow as well as today.”

News to @SomersetASA
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