Wednesday, 15 October 2008

What price discrimination??

. Ryedale District Council has proved once again that it continues to ignore young people and stands in the way of opening opportunities to improve their lives.

The council has approved plans to go ahead with a government initiative to provide free swimming for the over 60’s for two years. In the same breath, it has refused to provide this opportunity for the under 16’s. That is not just short- sighted. That is age discrimination.

Ryedale is ranked as one of the worst areas in the country for providing swimming facilities. Why, when ‘childhood obesity’ is a buzzword both at a local and a national level is this project shelved? Why, is the council, including its Chairman, so eager to support brilliant initiatives like the YCV project but, in the same breath, calling this amazing opportunity for young people ‘a poison chalice?’

The answer, as is often is, is simple; cost. The opposition group has vastly overestimated the take-up of the free swimming, projecting that the government grant will not cover it, and that it would cost RDC £35,000. Conveniently, they assume that children can swim 24 hours a day; 365 days a year, forgetting children are actually at school during the day. This is too stupid for words; and, of course, gives them the pretext they need to oppose this project. The most it would cost would be £20,000- a drop in the ocean of the Ryedale District Council budget. But of course, we should know that RDC are not interested in improving the health and well-being of young people in Ryedale; this refusal to provide for them and the rest of the community is a case in point.

Swimming is not only a healthy activity but it provides a vital life skill and also would give young people a social focus. Young people are demonised so often in the news but here is an example of them wanting to do something positive but then being discriminated against by the local council.

Make no mistake; this one is not going to be let go, Ryedale’s young people deserve better.

Hannah Keal
Youth Spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, Malton and Thirsk Constituency.

If anybody reading this can offer any advice or support in Hannah’s campaign to end this blatant discrimination please either leave a comment or contact her on hannahkeal@hotmail.co.uk.

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