ALL year round free swimming for people over 60 and the under 18s during school holidays looks set to continue.

Wirral Council said this afternoon that it plans to retain the service. A special cabinet meeting has been called for August 26 to agree the plans.

Subject to Cabinet agreement, free swimming will also be extended to armed forces personnel and ex-personnel living in Wirral.

Children in care, and their carers, will also be given free swimming passes.

Following the removal of the grant by the Government, many local councils, including Liverpool, immediately ended free swimming in council leisure centres.

Wirral's cabinet, instead, pledged to maintain free swimming throughout the summer holidays for pensioners and the under 18s, pending a review of the scheme.

Cllr David Elderton, Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism and Leisure, said: "At a time when the country is still struggling with Labour's legacy of debt, we have seen many councils, such as Liverpool, axe free swimming.

"I was determined, however, that before any decision was taken in Wirral we took a close look at free swimming in the Borough and the cost to the Council Taxpayer.

"I am really pleased that the scheme originally introduced by the Council in 2004 for young people, and extended in 2006 for the retired, will continue and that we will extend it to our armed forces and also children in care and their carers.

"We are committed to swimming in Wirral - one of our first actions was to secure the future of Guinea Gap and Leasowe Recreation Centre and, now, we can go further by maintaining free swimming.

"We are now looking at further ways of improving the leisure services in Wirral and I would urge everyone in the Borough who cares for this issue to get involved in our consultation, 'Wirral's Future' and tell us their views."

Councillor Jeff Green, leader of the council, added: "We said the new Administration would work hard to protect the important services that people depend on and I am pleased that Wirral will not be going down Labour Liverpool's route of cutting free swimming.

"I would like to thank all those residents, swimming groups and staff in the leisure centres who have told us what they think of free swimming."