Fight to retain free swims for adults

FREE STYLE: Under-17s could swim for free under a council scheme due to start in April.
FREE STYLE: Under-17s could swim for free under a council scheme due to start in April.

Two South Auckland local boards are fighting for their communities to retain the right to swim for free, no matter what age they are.

From April, children and teenagers under 17 across Auckland will be able to swim in any council-owned pool for free, but free entry to South Auckland pools for adults was scrapped.

Local boards from Otara-Papatoetoe and Mangere-Otahuhu have asked if they could extend the policy to cover adults as well.

Council policy advisor Anita Coy-Macken said, in the agenda for the council's Strategy and Finance Committee, that the boards believed charging adults would have a negative impact.

"They were concerned that the introduction of adult charges by the region-wide pricing policy would significantly impact on use of their local aquatic facilities and affect the wellbeing of their local communities," she said.

"When the governing body was considering the four swimming pool pricing scenarios, both local boards supported retaining the status quo charging, where the six Manukau pools would continue as free entry and the other 18 aquatic facilities would continue to charge."

The region-wide policy was based on the idea those under 16 would have universal free access to pools, and adults over would be charged.

Coy-Macken said the proposal was to allow local boards to lower adult charges if they could fit it in their budgets.

"Making adults free is inconsistent with the policy unless the governing body agrees to amend it," she said.

Coy-Macken recommended the council approves an amendment to the policy so boards can fund free entry for adults if it can "fund the financial implications and meet all the requirements of a special consultative procedure".

Both local boards will report back to the Strategy and Finance Committee on Thursday to show the cost of the proposal, how the cost will be met, and why those funding options have been chosen.

Auckland Now