London SE1 community website

Labour pledges free swimming and gym use for Southwark residents

London SE1 website team

Southwark residents will be able to use the new public swimming pool and gym at Elephant & Castle free of charge if a Labour administration is re-elected in May.

The Castle
The Castle at Elephant & Castle is due to open next year

Swimming and gym use will be free at council leisure centres for all Southwark residents under plans unveiled in Southwark Labour's manifesto this week.

The commitment follows last week's topping-out ceremony for The Castle leisure centre at Elephant & Castle which is due to open next year.

Since the previous Elephant & Castle pool closed in the 1990s, SE1 has has no publicly-run swimming facilities.

"Helping people in Southwark to lead healthy and active lives is one of Labour's top priorities and our pledge to deliver free swimming and gym use to all Southwark residents will make it easier for people in the borough to get fit and healthy," said Cllr Peter John, leader of Southwark Labour.

"This ground-breaking pledge will make a real difference to Southwark residents.

"I recognise that we will be implementing this proposal against a tough economic backdrop, but I believe that it must be an absolute priority of the council to help people in Southwark lead healthy lives."

Labour says it will review how leisure is funded in Southwark, looking across the board at the structure of the council's fees and charges, including how users from outside the borough are charged for council leisure centres.

Southwark's leisure centres are managed and operated by Fusion whose contract is due to come to an end in 2016.

In neighbouring Lambeth the Labour Party made a similar pledge to offer free swimming at the 2010 borough elections but later backtracked on the promise, blaming central Government funding cuts.

• Borough elections will be held on Thursday 22 May

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