Free swimming is to return despite government cuts

FUN TIME Young swimmers in the pool at the Mountbatten Centre
FUN TIME Young swimmers in the pool at the Mountbatten Centre
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FREE swimming is set to return to Portsmouth in less than two weeks.

The city’s three swimming pools at the Mountbatten Centre, Eastney Swimming Pool, and the Charter Community Sports Centre pool, will offer free sessions for people 16 and under, and 60 and over from April 1.

The scheme will cost Portsmouth City Council £100,000.

Council leader, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: ‘We’re very pleased to bring this back. Swimming is very important in a city like Portsmouth which is surrounded by water. Young people will be able to learn to swim, and older people will be able to take part in an enjoyable healthy activity together.’

Free swimming ended in Portsmouth last summer when the coalition government withdrew funding from every local authority in the country.

Unlike that scheme, the council’s new offer is open only to Portsmouth residents.

Cllr Lee Hunt, the city’s leader for sport, explained: ‘Under the national scheme our pools welcomed anyone of the right age, but because this is funded by us we can only afford for it to be open to Portsmouth residents. For adults it’s easy to prove where you live. For young people it’s more difficult. But we have a scheme in place for every young person in the city to be given a Portsmouth City library card and youngsters will be able to show this to qualify for free swimming. This will also encourage library membership in the city.’

Cllr Vernon-Jackson, added: ‘This is of benefit to everyone in the city.

‘We won’t have generations of people unable to swim and improved health will reduce the amount of money we have to spend on adult health care and social services. And all for just 50p per Portsmouth resident.’

Timetables for free sessions will be available at

For more, call Mountbatten Leisure Centre on (023) 9262 6500, Eastney Swimming Pool on (023) 9273 1786 and Charter Community Sports Centre on (023) 9283 8798.