A COUNCIL leader has encouraged as many youngsters as possible to take advantage of a free swim scheme run by the local authority.
It comes as Hartlepool Borough Council unveiled full details of its free swims scheme for town children during the summer school holiday period.
Last summer, 6,911 children accessed the free swims programme in Hartlepool.
Leaflets with the bus timetable information have been distributed at sites across the town and council leader, Christopher Akers-Belcher is urging children to take advantage of the offer.
Under the scheme, which was held for the first time last summer, youngsters under the age of 16 can swim for free on weekday mornings at the town’s Mill House Leisure Centre, in Raby Road.
The scheme operates from Monday, August 4 to Friday, August 29, excluding Bank Holiday Monday August 25.
Sessions are held between 10am and 12.30pm.
As part of the scheme the council is also providing free bus transport to and from Mill House Leisure Centre for under 16s with pick-up points from every school across the town.
Parents/carers can also travel free on the buses but have to pay to swim.
Also, anyone under eight must be accompanied both on the bus and in the swimming pool by a parent or responsible adult over 16.
Children can choose to make their own way to Mill House but officials say priority will be given to those travelling on the free buses, also provided by the council.
Coun Akers-Belcher said: “The free swims scheme last year was really popular and I am delighted that we are able to repeat it this summer.
“We are well aware of the financial pressures that some families are facing and 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 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.”
Both the free swims and free transport will be operated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis’ and in total there will three bus routes - North, South and Central.
There will be two buses on each route on weekday mornings with the first buses setting off at 9.10am.
After arriving at Mill House, youngsters will have an hour in the pool before getting back on the bus for the return journey.
A leaflet giving full details of the scheme including free bus timetable information is available from Mill House Leisure Centre, Headland Sports Hall, Brierton Sports Centre, the Civic Centre and all libraries.
Alternatively, people can download a copy by visiting www.hartlepool.gov.uk
For further information call (01429) 223791.