POLITICIANS have responded to complaint from a Barry senior citizen who can’t take up free swimming, when he chooses, because of the street he lives in.

Mr R Ford, of Newlands Street, Barry, contacted the Barry and District News (January 6) to say that the Assembly government had reduced funding and the Vale council had divided Barry along the postcode line.

CF63 residents were awarded Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday for free swims 1pm to 3pm.

CF62, which includes Rhoose, were allocated Wednesday only, from 1pm to 3pm.

Mr Ford said: “After I complained I received a letter from the council stating that CF63 was a deprived area.

“That insulted many of my friends in CF62 who felt discriminated against.

“We all live here every day and pay our council tax.”

Vale Buttrills councillor, Ian Johnson said dividing free swimming sessions by geography made no sense.

Cllr Johnson said: “The postcode boundary runs through the middle of town.

“In the case of some places in my ward, it literally runs through the middle of the street, meaning that neighbours can’t go to the leisure centre together.

“The Vale council is blaming grant cuts for reducing services.

“They should instead consider how they can reinstate these services so that all Barry residents have the opportunity to stay fit and healthy and socialise with friends.

“There should have been a wider and better publicised discussion on these cuts before they were introduced.”

Vale MP Alun Cairns and Conservative councillors said they had highlighted “the bizarre new rules” taken up by the Vale council which determine the qualification for free swimming.

Mr Cairns said: “I find it shocking that the Vale council are splitting people in this way, which appears to be deeply unfair.

“They are splitting a community, with some people entitled to just a fraction of what their neighbours are.

“The council really needs to take another look at this.”

Dyfan Cllr Leighton Rowlands said: “The new approach is deeply disappointing; the council is promoting an active and healthy Vale as part of their corporate plan but then restricting when people can go swimming using postcodes.

“The council have said they are required to deliver free swimming to those areas that have the greatest levels of deprivation.

“However, deprivation can exist in different areas including in the CF62 postcode.

“Clearly this policy is for the few and not the many.”

A Vale council spokesman said: “Unfortunately, our leisure centre management partners legacy Leisure have had to reduce our free swimming provision for senior citizens after Welsh Government cut funding in this area by 50 per cent.

“New Welsh Government guidelines require the council focus on deprived areas when offering the opportunity to swim for free and, in an effort to avoid the stigma of singling out individuals, we have made this available to the whole population within certain wards. The full scheme is also open to any senior citizen who is receipt of housing benefit regardless of where they live in the Vale.

“Regrettably, this decrease in funding means that some senior citizens can now swim only once a week for free, but, should Welsh Government reinstate the grant, we would happily return to the old arrangement.”