AN angry father has hit out at council policy on leisure centres after being told there was no timescale on when children can return to swimming.

Henry Widdas, 46, was also left fuming after being told he could no longer attend council gyms unless he was a fully paid-up member.

Mr Widdas, who lives in Bonsall Street, Mill Hill, said: “I’m furious and absolutely gutted for my son as we haven’t been able to swim together since March.

“We used to go every Thursday to Darwen Leisure Centre, it was the highlight of our week.

“But when I phoned Leisure Services this week I just got someone reading off a script that it’s far too dangerous for children to return because of Covid-19.

“I asked if there was any timescale for my son being able to return and she said no.”

Media worker Mr Widdas said the council official also told him he could no longer attend his gym at Witton Park - or any other council gym - with his Leisure Card.

He had previously been able to attend for one-off visits that used to cost him £1 during mid-afternoons.

Mr Widdas said he was told he would now have to pay the full membership fee of around £30 a month if he wanted to return to the gym and that access would be limited due to restricted opening hours.

He added: “When I used to go to the gym on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays there would often be only two or three of us in there so to suggest they need to restrict visits to full members only is ridiculous.

“I appreciate there has been a rise in positive tests in Lancashire but the regulations imposed locally and by government are devastating for health, physically and mentally.”

Council executive member for health and wellbeing Cllr Damian Talbot said the council has had to navigate a huge range of additional safety measures and put adaptations in place to ensure their buildings met Covid-secure guidance, which had presented significant challenges.

He said: “Following intense talks with the government last week we were pleased and relieved for our customers and our staff that we were allowed to remain open under the stricter tier three restrictions.

“We are continuing to move our programming towards wider opening and from this week customers can book and pre-pay for lane swimming. Swimming lessons for schools will start again after half term and we look forward to welcoming children back into our centres.