Free swimming for over 60s will be AXED this spring when all leisure services in Reading are taken over by one company.

The decision for the Greenwich Leisure (GLL) takeover was revealed at this week’s full council meeting on Tuesday in response to a question from Save Arthur Hill campaigner Peter Burt.

Mr Burt was not able to ask the question as time ran out in the public questions part of the meeting but written answers were published.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) awarded a £43 million leisure contract to GLL last month to design, build and operate Reading’s leisure service, including building two new swimming pools in Rivermead and Palmer Park.

READ MORE: Broad Street Mall and The Oracle plans including bowling and golf to be voted on next by Reading Borough Council

Cllr Graeme Hoskin, lead member for Sport, revealed in his answer that free access to off peak swimming for over 60s “will cease” when the new leisure contract starts.

Explaining why, he said: “One of the primary aims of the provision of new, vastly improved leisure facilities and our partnership with GLL is to increase participation and physical activity amongst Reading residents currently least likely to use our facilities.

“Reducing health inequalities, whereby the least well off in our town tend to suffer much more ill-health and die younger than the more prosperous, is a priority for the council and our public health funding investment in leisure services will seek to address that.

“How that funding will be used to support programmes is still being worked up.”

The current Your Reading Passport discount card, which offers discounts on sport and leisure activities, events, library hire and more, will be scrapped and replaced with a ‘Reading Residents Card’.

READ MORE: The thirteen important buildings with local protection in Reading

People in Reading who are over 60 years old currently get free access to off peak swimming, which will now end this spring.

Mr Burt also asked if concessions for less well-off and less able members of the community would be kept.

People with a disability or are on a low income currently benefit from discounted activities on the ‘Your Reading Passport’ on scheme.

Cllr Hoskin said GLL will provide:

  • A ‘Reading Resident’s Card’ that will give up to 30 per cent discount from activity charges and up to 50 per cent discount for concessions
  • Free weekly targeted sessions on a range of activities for concessionary users
  • A “comprehensive” concessionary pricing structure

GLL will also expand 60+ activities and club across all leisure centres in Reading, according to Cllr Hoskin, providing more walking sports and developing new activities with Age UK and University of the 3rd Age.

For those with disabilities, GLL plans to provide:

  • Sensory swim lessons
  • Free disability helper access
  • Fully accessible changing places toilet in the new leisure centres
  • Exercise referral
  • Falls prevention
  • Cardiac and cancer rehabilitation activities

Cllr Hoskin also revealed GLL is expected to submit planning applications for the new Rivermead and Palmer Park leisure centres this summer.