23 May 2017

Swim school says council numbers 'don't add up'

8:38 pm on 23 May 2017

A Christchurch swim school fears private businesses will lose out if a council proposal for free swimming lessons goes ahead.

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Photo: 123rf.com

Free lessons were one of the options proposed by the Christchurch City Council as part of its draft annual plan. Other options included lowering the cost for low-income families so they had greater access to swimming lessons.

Canterbury Swim School owner Huia Mikara said the proposal was for subsidised lessons at council-owned pools, and that would be unfair.

"That offer should be made at all pools, with private pools getting the same access to funding as council," he said.

Mr Mikara's business partner, Jenny Jones, said the council's numbers also did not add up.

The council said free lessons would cost ratepayers $50,000 a year, but Ms Jones said that did not make any sense.

"If it was $50,000, that will only benefit a hundred children, per term, annually," she said.

But John Filsell, the council's head of recreation, sports and events, said the potential funding would be more like a grant, which private swim schools might be able to access.

"It is a fighting fund, if you like, it can be applied in a number of ways," he said.

Mr Filsell said there were still issues to be worked out, but he agreed the original public consultation was not clear enough when it came to the numbers.

Swim Safe New Zealand chief executive Jonty Mills said water safety was a serious issue in New Zealand.

He said it was important that all children had access to swimming lessons, regardless of whether they could afford them or not.

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