No more free Leeds leisure sessions as funding to council ends

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A scheme which has provided thousands of people with free gym and swim sessions at council leisure centres is to be cut as funding comes to an end.

More than 90,000 people had registered for Leeds Let’s Get Active (LLGA) and half of them regularly attended the sessions designed to boost exercise levels.

Coun Stewart Golton, leader of the city council's Lib Dem group.

Coun Stewart Golton, leader of the city council's Lib Dem group.

Although the scheme’s free sessions provided through the scheme are to finish at the end of the year, Leeds City Council has stepped in to offer subsidised rates instead.

These will cost £2 on a pay and play basis, £10 per month or £120 a year.

Coun James Lewis, executive member with responsibility for sport, said: “The LLGA scheme has been incredibly popular and encouraged many people to take part in sport and physical activity who hadn’t previously participated.

“With that in mind, we were keen to extend the initiative once its funding elapsed.”

He said budget constraints meant free sessions could not continue, but the subsidised fees were “extremely attractive” and targeted community programmes would still offer free LLGA classes.

He added: “This will mean that existing users and hopefully many more people will be able to take advantage of what LLGA has to offer in the future.”

However, Lib Dem group leader Coun Stewart Golton said it was a “huge mistake” to cut the scheme as it had helped thousands of people become more active and lead healthier lives.

“The council’s claim that it can’t afford the scheme just doesn’t ring true when they’ve just given more than £4m to Yorkshire County Cricket Club to pay for their new stand,” he said.

“This administration needs to take a serious look at its priorities if they think that it’s right to subsidise elite sport at the expense of a programme that has helped thousands of Leeds residents into more healthy lifestyles.”

The £1m programme, which was funded by Sport England, Public Health and Leeds Clinical Commissioning Groups, started in 2013 and offered free gym, swim and court sessions at council leisure centres and other community classes.

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