Page last updated at 11:25 GMT, Sunday, 11 January 2009

'No progress' on free swimming

Swimming lesson
The SNP said it was working to deliver its manifesto pledge

An SNP pledge to give children free access to swimming pools is not being delivered, according to Labour.

Scottish Labour sport spokesman Frank McAveety said only two councils provided school children with free, year-round access to pools.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: "We are 20 months into a four-year term, and are working through our manifesto."

She said she was working with local government to deliver in key areas.

Physical education

Mr McAveety said: "The SNP have been in power for 18 months now and we have seen absolutely no progress on their pledge to ensure that youngsters have free access to council swimming pools.

"The Scottish Government need to start taking sport seriously. It is really important that we encourage young people to adopt healthier lifestyles and swimming is a great activity."

The SNP's manifesto at the 2007 Holyrood elections pledged two hours physical education for every school pupil, a moratorium on the sale of playing fields and free access to council swimming pools.

Mr McAveety said that his staff had contacted all 32 Scottish councils.

They found only two, Labour-run Glasgow and Inverclyde, provided free, year-round access to council swimming pools for children under 16.

Since securing the 2014 Commonwealth Games, we are now also consulting on how to achieve the best possible sporting legacy
Nicola Sturgeon
Health secretary
Edinburgh City Council provided free access to children under five and up to S1.

East Renfrewshire and Fife provided free access during the school holidays.

Dumfries and Galloway used to provide free access but this has since been cut by the new Conservative-Lib Dem coalition.

Ms Sturgeon said: "We are working with local government to develop policy in areas where local government has a key interest, including our ambitions for swimming.

"Since securing the 2014 Commonwealth Games, we are now also consulting on how to achieve the best possible sporting legacy to deliver long term health benefits for the nation, and that is also a vital piece of work in progress.

"Indeed, the first legacy announcements have been support for a new 50m pool in Aberdeen, and an extra 1m to help refurbish Edinburgh's Royal Commonwealth Pool."

She said many local authorities already provided free admission to targeted groups but the government had "clear ambitions" to go further.

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