Bristol swimming club 'threatened' by council deal

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A swimming club in Bristol says its future is under threat because of a new city council contract.

Under the contract, only the company Sports and Leisure Management (SLM) would be able to provide lessons to beginners.

The council said it was important beginners are taught by professional sports providers in a way that also allows other people to use the pool.

But Portway Swimming Club said this would lose them new members.

Caroline Wilkins, secretary of the volunteer-run club, said some clubs in Bristol had agreed to the new scheme but not them.

"It will leave us without two of our swimming sessions for our younger age group children," she said.

"We are having to look for private pool time or a pool outside of the Bristol boundary to try and enable us to continue with that part of our swimming club."

'Valuable role'

Charlotte Leslie, Conservative MP for Bristol North West, said the move was "insulting to the club" and would "smash apart a really valuable sports community".

The former swimming teacher said: "Anyone who knows the swimming world knows that the best provision is through clubs where there's a hierarchy of progress."

A joint statement from the council and SLM said: "The Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) along with swimming clubs in the city agreed in 2007 to adopt a comprehensive swimming strategy.

"The strategy identified the importance for young learners to be taught by professional sports providers such as SLM at appropriate times of the day and in a way that would also allow for effective pool planning so that all local pool users would benefit."

They said this had already happened at most swimming clubs in Bristol.

"We acknowledge that swimming clubs have a valuable role to play, particularly when it comes to providing experience and expertise to more advanced swimmers," the statement added.

"We would urge Portway Swimming Club to communicate openly with us."

The ASA said it was supporting all parties in the transition period.

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