Termination of private swimming lessons at Newry Pool sparks outrage

February 16, 2015

A private swimming lessons provider which has taught at Newry Swimming Pool for over 20 years has had its licence terminated by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council in a move that has sparked widespread outrage.

Swim Fit Swimming School is one of several swimming lesson providers which have been given just four weeks notice that their private hire agreement with the Council will no longer continue at the new pool. The move has sparked outrage amongst the various swimming organisations in place at the pool as well as from parents whose children have been availing of swimming lessons for the last number of years.

According to well known Swim Fit instructor John O’Hanlon, the controversial decision was undertaken by the Council without prior consultation with affected groups.

As concerned members of the community took to social media last week to voice their anger at the move, Swim Fit issued a statement on its Facebook page thanking its customers for the support they have given since the swim school received notice of the termination of its licence with Newry Swimming Pool.

“We have over the last 22 years enjoyed a very good and positive relationship with Newry and Mourne District Council,” the statement read,

“Both parties have mutually benefited from this partnership in providing this valuable service to the people of Newry and Mourne and the wider community.

“It has to be said that Swim Fit Swimming School is very disappointed with this outcome but will continue to strive to work with the Council to try and resolve this situation.

“The swim school has been overwhelmed by the response in support of our plight and are incredibly thankful to our customers past and present.

“We will endeavour to keep you updated on any new developments however at the time of posting this the Council has yet to respond.”

Many parents have blasted the decision with one local mum registering her “disgust”  at Newry, Mourne and Down District Council via social media.

Echoing the sentiments of many concerned parents, the woman revealed that she herself had been taught by Swimfit and that her own daughter was now taking lessons with them.

“I hope they realise that they are stopping a lot of children in the area from receiving much needed and potentially life saving lessons,” she said.

“I would like to know how the council is planning to accommodate these children or are they just going to deny local children life saving lessons?”

It is believed that a further meeting is to be held with local councillors to discuss the decision but the council failed to confirm this or to answer any of The Examiner’s questions, replying only that,

“Swimfit is a commercial organisation and the Council do not comment on commercial contracts.”