Leeds kids on march to battle cuts at swim pool

Junior school pupils from Bramley Primary, Bramley St Peters, and Raynville Primary protest against the proposed cut in opening hours at Bramley swimming baths.
Junior school pupils from Bramley Primary, Bramley St Peters, and Raynville Primary protest against the proposed cut in opening hours at Bramley swimming baths.
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David Cameron was blamed in the Commons for imposing spending cuts which will result in the axing of swimming lessons for children in Leeds.

And within hours, his accuser, MP Rachel Reeves, and local adults and children were on the march in their area, protesting against the axing of swimming hours at Bramley baths.

Leeds West Labour MP Ms Reeves quizzed Mr Cameron on the baths’ future during this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions.

Hours at the baths seem certain to be reduced to between 4pm and 8pm on weekdays following Leeds City Council’s decision last week to make £90m of cuts.

An overall reduction to 29 hours a week is set to be introduced this coming September.

Ms Reeves said: “The £90m of cuts to the budget of Leeds City Council means that Bramley baths in my constituency will have its hours cut so that school children will not be able to swim there any more.

“How does that fit with the Government’s ambition for school sports and for the Olympic legacy for Leeds?”

The pool was opened more than 60 years ago in an old Leeds foundry to get all the local children swimming after two children drowned in an accident in Bramley.

The PM replied that “extra money” will be found for school sport and insisted “funding per pupil is not being reduced”.

He added that his government was also “properly” funding the Olympics.

Meanwhile, a political row has broken out over funding for West Yorkshire’s Sure Start children’s centres.

Labour Shadow Education Secretary Andy Burnham claims the government’s new Early Intervention Grant, which funds Sure Start and other children’s services, will be 22 per cent lower next year than the existing grants.

He said: “The Prime Minister made a personal promise to protect and build on Sure Start.”

The Department for Education has disputed Mr Burnham’s figures, claiming grants have been cut by just under 11 per cent.

A spokeswoman said: “We have ensured local authorities have enough money to maintain the network of Sure Start children’s centres, to protect and expand free childcare for two-year-olds and short breaks for disabled children and still have money to tailor additional local services to ensure they meet the needs of vulnerable children and young people.”

mark.hookham@ypn.co.uk

Joanne Mjadzelics

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