Free leisure sports for kids could end

Councillor Tom Johnston
Councillor Tom Johnston

ALTHOUGH local leisure centres will probably continue to offer free swims for children during school holidays, the cost of other sports could soon increase.

Children have been able to swim for free at pools across North Lanarkshire since 2001, but due to current budget pressures North Lanarkshire Leisure recently asked the council to begin charging for both swimming and “dry” sports.

Learning and leisure committee members have recommended that while swimming programmes will continue to be free, other sports will carry a £1 charge for a half-day session.

This will be voted on at the full council meeting tomorrow (Thursday) and the charges could be introduced straight away.

However the activities will remain cheaper than their equivalents in other local authority areas

Council leader Jim McCabe commented: “We are proposing to charge £1 per session for our school holiday activity programme. This represents exceptional value for money in comparison to other local authorities.”

In addition to claiming the council’s SNP group was given the relevant reports too late to properly respond, their learning and leisure spokesman Tom Johnston said: “This is billed as a ‘nominal’ charge but is clearly just the start. This is policy-making on the hoof by the Labour administration.”

“North Lanarkshire Council is the paymaster of its subsidiary company North Lanarkshire Leisure. It is a simple matter of budget and subsidy adjustment to ensure continuation of free dry sports.”