Free access to pools for over-60s

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Plans for free admission to public swimming pools for the over-60s will be set out tomorrow by Gordon Brown in a bid to encourage more people to take up sport ahead of the London Olympics.

The Culture, Media, and Sport Secretary Andy Burnham indicated that the move was the first step towards the scrapping of all pool entry charges by the time the Games open in 2012.

He likened the plan to Labour's decision to introduce free admission to museums and galleries in 1997.

Initially the Government will allocate £80m to local authorities next year to waive charges for the over-60s, with a further £50m for the upkeep of their pools.

However, Mr Burnham signalled that future spending rounds would include funding to cover free entry for the under-16s, with universal free admission by 2012.

Mr Burnham said yesterday: "The big vision here is that, in the same way that museums and galleries were made free, we want, in a focused and progressive way, to remove entry charges for swimming."