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Council sparks row as it starts charging people £7 an hour to swim in harbour

The Bristol swimming fee will be in force between April 29 to May 28 during the early hours of every weekend

Ed Cullinane
Saturday 25 February 2023 07:27 GMT
Bristol City Council have put forward a charge for swimming
Bristol City Council have put forward a charge for swimming (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A council has sparked a row over a new scheme to charge people £7 an hour - to swim in a harbour.

The open-water swimming pilot will start in the Spring in Bristol Harbour - with lifeguards, safety vessels and water testing on hand.

People wanting to swim will be able to pay £7 an hour to swim in Bristol’s harbour during weekends from April.

It will be held every Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 10am, from April 29 until May 28. Officials say 80 people will be permitted to take part - all booked in advance online.

The trial will run for five weeks along with a 200m swimming course.

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees wrote on his blog: “We have listened to people’s requests for a safe swimming space in our harbour and have been working with local and experienced partners to explore how we can make this a reality,

“We have also been working with partners like Wessex Water to check the water quality and look at how we can put in place additional testing to ensure it is safe before allowing people into the water.

“Throughout the pilot we will monitor costs, up-take, and any impact on our ability to maintain a safe environment throughout our harbour.”

Despite finally getting the chance to swim in the harbour though, some swimmers online have criticized the “steep” £7 per hour charge.

The fee is more expensive than some of Bristol’s swimming pools - with Bristol South pool charging £5.40 an hour.

Mayor Marvin Rees defended the swimming charge and claimed the council “listened to people’s requests for a safe swimming space” (Getty Images)

One person wrote on Twitter: “The absolute state of this country that: a) we’re being charged to swim in the damn sea.

“b) we have to do sampling to make sure the water isn’t too full of sewage before swimming.”

Another questioned how “safe” the water was, writing: “I don’t know about nowadays but back in the 90s the harbour was notoriously polluted. As a kid I was under strict instruction never to touch the water.’’

However some took a more positive outlook on the price, with one Bristolian writing: “I mean the swimming pools around town cost over a fiver, plenty of other open water swimming locations charge a similar amount to this, and hell the lido in Clifton is 25 quid for 2 hours!

“So I don’t think 7 quid an hour is actually that bad.”

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