Swimming club's despair over plan to stop lessons at pools
PARENTS of young swimmers in Ilkeston have hit out at council plans to stop a club holding lessons in its pools.
Almost 1,500 people have backed a campaign to help Ilkeston Swimming Club, which could be stopped from holding swimming lessons at Victoria Park Leisure Centre, in Manners Road.
Erewash Borough Council, which owns the centre, wants to stop the club from renting its pools for teaching beginners.
It could still use it for teaching competitive swimmers, but those that are yet to reach that stage would be forced to pay for lessons run by the council itself.
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Richard Bloore, 38, of Stapleford, has set up Facebook group "Save Ilkeston Swimming Club", which has already attracted 1,488 supporters, including swimmer Ollie Hynd, 18, of Kirkby-in-Ashfield – who won gold, silver and bronze in the 2012 Paralympic Games.
Mr Bloore, who learned how to swim at the club 35 years ago, said: "The council wants to make money by stopping the club from teaching our young children to swim when they can do it to make a profit.
"It shouldn't always be about making a profit at the expense of the children and community volunteers.
"The club has provided this teaching for 40 years.
"The club has been key to keeping Victoria Park swimming baths in Ilkeston open."
Mr Bloore's two sons, seven-year-old Daniel and five-year-old Matthew, are both club members.
Former club head coach Richard Toplis said: "It would be a tragedy if the club had to stop lessons. The club has played a very big part of the community in Ilkeston."
A club spokesman said members paid £15 per month to take part in sessions once a week, £20 for twice a week and £25 for anything beyond. But if the profit from lessons was removed, charges to other club members would go up.
He said: "We would have to turn children away. And this would deprive them of learning how to swim, because Victoria Park Leisure Centre have got a waiting list."
Tim Spencer, head of culture and leisure at the council, said: "This proposal is part of our ongoing partnership work with Ilkeston Swimming Club and the Amateur Swimming Association to develop both the Victoria Park Leisure Centre's learn-to-swim programme and the club's competition framework in Ilkeston. No decision has been made on this proposal. The council remains in discussions with Ilkeston Swimming Club.
"We have always made it clear that it is our intention to work fully with the club's committee to reach an informed decision before any proposed changes are introduced."
An online petition against the plans has been signed by 85 people. For more information, visit www.change.org and search for "Ilkeston Swimming Club".
Prices for swimming lessons run by the leisure centre are £5.20 for adults and £4.60 for juniors and 50p less for leisure card holders.