CHILDREN and the over 60s across West Lancs could soon be enjoying free visits to swimming pools thanks to a £140m Government cash bonanza.
West Lancs Labour MP Rosie Cooper is urging the district council to bid for a slice of the funding which was unveiled by the Government last week.
If secured, it could see free swimming for under 16s and over 60s at West Lancashire’s two pools – Nye Bevan in Skelmersdale and Park Pool in Ormskirk.
The announcement marks the first stage in Labour’s aspiration for free swimming for everyone in the run up to the London Olympics in 2012.
The fund will also support initiatives such as free lessons for adults who cannot swim, and the introduction of swimming co-ordinators to boost and sustain uptake.
Rosie said: “This is a great idea and I will be contacting the district council to see how we can make sure everyone in West Lancs can benefit.
“Edge Hill University in Ormskirk has already been chosen as a training venue for the Olympics and now we have the prospect of free swimming, so it is a double boost for West Lancashire. Again, it demonstrates the Government’s commitment to ensuring the Olympics is a truly national event and that it has a positive impact on the whole country.”
Andy Burnham MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said: “Offering free swimming is just the kind of imaginative action required to make us a more active nation by 2012. We have chose swimming because its appeal is universal. It is the perfect antidote to the couch potato culture.”
Precise details of how the scheme will be delivered will be agreed over the summer with the fund being available from 2009/10 for two years.