ALMOST 7,000 children enjoyed free swims over the summer holidays as part of an innovative council scheme which has been hailed a success.
Under the Hartlepool Borough Council scheme, children under the age of 16 were able to swim for free on mornings at the town’s Mill House Leisure Centre, in Raby Road.
Over the course of the six-week holiday period, a total of 6,911 children enjoyed a free swim, with 4,197 of them travelling on the free bus service provided by the local authority.
Buses picked up from every school across the town en route to the Mill House pool and then dropped children back off after their free swim.
Labour councillor Carl Richardson, who chairs the town’s health and wellbeing board, said: “We are really pleased with the response to the scheme.
“It has certainly exceeded our expectations.
“As a council I think it is really important that we encourage children and the young people of our town to take part in recreational activities.
“Swimming is a great way to keep fit and I am sure that the council will want to give consideration to similar initiatives during holiday periods in the future to encourage the young people of our town to be active.
“If we can encourage all young people to be active in their early years there is more chance of them staying fit and healthy as they grow older.”
Anyone under eight had to be accompanied both on the bus and in the swimming pool by a parent or responsible adult over 16 who was required to pay the normal admission charge.
Officers have stressed that the figure of 6,911 could include some children going more than once.
The council leader, Labour councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, has previously said the scheme had surpassed all expectations.