Southwark Labour’s manifesto pledge to offer free swimming and gym to residents is already in chaos, say opposition councillors.

Concerns have been aired after the council leader said he didn’t know a pilot scheme for the policy was already being run by the council – despite details of the pilot being published in his own Council Plan in July.

Liberal Democrat councillors say it highlights the lack of joined up thinking at the council, with cabinet members incapable of properly planning out their own policies.

The issue was raised at a meeting of the council’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee this week, when Liberal Democrat councillors asked for an update on the free swimming and gym policy. They also asked how a pilot scheme already being run by the council would feed into the thinking of decision makers. The council leader responded by saying he was unaware a pilot scheme had been taking place.

The pilot, which apparently involves offering free swimming and gym to 100 “inactive” residents, was promoted in the Council Plan 2014/15 and also referred to in a Council Assembly answer in July.

Labour have previously been criticised for poor planning on other policies, including long-running confusion over how many new homes will be built in the borough.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat group leader and OSC member Cllr Anood Al-Samerai said:

“Labour made all sorts of vague, uncosted promises before the local elections this year, but it’s clear they are struggling to keep their heads above water when it comes to delivering on them.”

“You would think the leader of the council would know about a pilot scheme for his own policy, but clearly he is making it up as he goes along. Before the election, residents were promised free gym and swimming. Labour didn’t mention anything about limiting it to certain days or restricted hours.”

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