Swimming with the tide could be costly

PUBLISHED: 14:38 17 March 2009 | UPDATED: 14:56 04 May 2010

HOW are you doing with your New Year s resolutions? Three months down the line I guess most people have forgotten the promises they made back at the start of the year, but if you re still doing well in your bid to give up smoking, or cut down on booze, or

HOW are you doing with your New Year's resolutions?

Three months down the line I guess most people have forgotten the promises they made back at the start of the year, but if you're still doing well in your bid to give up smoking, or cut down on booze, or whatever, then congratulations.

Like many people I vowed to get a bit fitter in 2009, largely due to the fact that I was given the Wii Fit for Christmas and thought it would be a good way to lose a few pounds.

Results have been, er, mixed so far, and the curry I had at the weekend probably didn't do me any favours.

The machine has set me a deadline of the end of March, so I'll persevere for a couple more weeks at least.

Of course if you're not technologically minded there are plenty of other ways to get fit. Swimming is one of the best of those, and visits to the pool will soon be getting a lot cheaper for two groups of South Cambridgeshire residents, following the district council's announcement that children and the elderly will be able to access several of their swimming pools free of charge for the next two years.

The scheme is part of a national government initiative to build a lasting legacy ahead of the 2012 Olympics, and many local authorities are taking advantage of the subsidies on offer.

But not North Herts, who have decided not to participate because of the "financial burden" it will place on the council's budget. So if you live in Royston, you'll continue to pay at the pool as usual.

Is this a sensible move? Not according to Terry Hutt, of the Royston Pensioners Action Group, who has started a petition to try to get councillors to re-consider.

The veteran campaigner told The Crow: "A lot of elderly people like to swim because it's a good way of keeping active.

"You can swim for free in Cambridgeshire, and in most other places around the area, but not in Royston or the rest of North Herts."

Mr Hutt certainly has a point. The cost of swimming is not insignificant, especially for elderly or young people, who often have a limited budget. And it would certainly be one way to try to combat the growing obesity epidemic.

But in these financially tough times, I can see why the council doesn't think it prudent to give up income from what is, strictly speaking, a leisure activity.

The government grants on offer, worth approximately £36,000 a year, would not cover the total current income from swimming activities in the district, meaning cash which could have been used elsewhere would not then be available.

We would (rightly) be up in arms if the council was unable to provide its core services due to a lack of funds, so I can quite understand, if you'll excuse the pun, why they don't want to dive in feet first on this issue.

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