Page last updated at 10:19 GMT, Tuesday, 7 October 2008 11:19 UK

Pools map shows 'gap' in access

Swimmers at Brockwell Lido
Lidos should be reopened, the report recommends

About three million Londoners have poor access to public swimming pools - with numbers set to rise by 2012, a London Assembly report has revealed.

The situation is worst in outer London boroughs where 51% of people live more than a mile away from community pools and experience poor transport links.

The figures came to light when the Assembly mapped pools across the city.

The report said unless accessibility is improved London will fall short of the 2012 sporting legacy focus on swimming.

The report by the Assembly's Economic Development, Culture, Sport and Tourism Committee comes ahead of the mayor's London Legacy Plan for the Olympics.

'Significant gaps'

The worst affected borough is Redbridge where 84% of people live more than a mile from council-owned swimming facilities.

Hillingdon, at 76% and Havering at 69% are the next two worst boroughs.

Redbridge: (2008) 84% - (2012) 84%
Hillingdon: 76% - 68%
Havering: 69% - 70%
Harrow: 65% - 60%
Ealing: 64% - 56%
Barnet: 64% - 65%
Brent: 57% - 59%
Kingston: 57% - 56%
Croydon: 55% - 56%
Greenwich: 53% - 35%
Source: London Assembly

In the boroughs of Havering, Barnet, Brent and Croydon the issue of accessibility is expected to worsen by 2012 while the situation is not expected to improve in Redbridge, the study shows.

The report also found there were only diving facilities available in nine of the 33 boroughs, with 11 in total.

Dee Doocey, chair of the Economic Development, Culture, Sport and Tourism Committee said: "Our report highlights that in 11 London boroughs half the population live more than 20 minutes walk from a public pool.

"In many cases these are boroughs that have poorer access to public transport.

"The maps show that Londoners' access to public swimming pools will not have improved by 2012 despite the focus on swimming as part of the 2012 sporting legacy."

Colin Brown, director of London Swimming, said: "This report clearly shows that although London has a high number of pools we have some significant gaps and that accessibility for more than a third of the population is poor."

The report suggested that apart from constructing new facilities reopening old bathing ponds and lidos would get more people into swimming.

It also recommended that when refurbishments were being carried out, temporary pools should be made available and school swimming pools should be opened for the public during weekends and holidays.

In June the government unveiled a 140m scheme encouraging councils across the country to provide free swimming facilities for young people and those aged over 60 as an Olympics legacy.

Councils back free swimming plan
25 Sep 08 |  Hampshire

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