Public asked to give views on free leisure access for over 65s

DERRY City and Strabane District Council is asking for the public's views on new proposals to offer over 65s free access to its leisure facilities.

The plans are aimed at making facilities more accessible and encouraging a more active lifestyle and a public consultation launches this week to gauge support for the move.

If agreed, council would be the first to offer free access to all leisure services for the older community.

The proposed amendment to council's leisure pricing policy comes on the back of a notice of motion approved by councillors in January last year before leisure centres were forced to close during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The motion highlighted the barrier to health and fitness posed to over 65s who may be unable to afford to pay for activities, and the transport to reach local centres.

The consultation process is part of an Equality Impact Assessment on the draft policy which must be carried out in keeping with council's statutory equality duties.

Anyone who wishes to contribute can do so online or by post until September 17 and council hopes to engage with as many local people as possible.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke, said it was important for local people to play their part in decision making.

"The COVID health pandemic has made us all more aware of the importance of health and wellbeing and looking after ourselves and others," he said.

"That's particularly the case for the older community who may find it more challenging to find suitable and accessible activities to help them live a healthier lifestyle.

"In keeping with council's own focus on promoting the health and wellbeing of all local citizens this proposal offers the chance for those who perhaps can't afford to take up fitness activities, or need some encouragement to take those first steps, to consider visiting their local leisure centre.

"Here they can enjoy a variety of activities led by trained instructors in a safe and welcoming environment.

"I would encourage all local people to contribute to this consultation and play their part in assisting council to shape and deliver the policies and programmes that reflect the needs of all citizens."

If you wish to receive further information on this policy and a copy of the council's equality impact assessment report and response questionnaire, email:

rachel.mccay@derrystrabane.com

The draft policy and equality impact assessment report and consultation response questionnaire are also available on the council's website:

https://haveyoursay.derrystrabane.com/.

These are available in other formats on request. All comments/completed questionnaires should be forwarded no later than September 17 at 4pm.

Alternatively, you can contact Rachel McCay on 028 71253253 to arrange a virtual meeting to relay any comments you wish to make.

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