Top Swimmer Backs Cat
Top Swimmer Backs Cat's Campaign

I’m delighted that swimming world record holder and local lass Dr Julie Bradshaw MBE is backing my campaign to keep Fleetwood Leisure Centre open. Julie was a longstanding member of Fleetwood Swimming Club, training at the town’s pool during her youth. Amazingly, she first swam the English Channel at the age of 15 and then did it again in 2002 completing the event in 14 hours, 18 minutes whilst swimming butterfly. This broke the previous record by over nine hours.

Julie also broke more records by circumnavigating the 28.5 miles course around Manhattan Island in New York in the fastest documented butterfly time of 9 hours and 28 minutes so she clearly knows a thing or two about swimming and is passionate about the sport.

Last week she told me she was very concerned to hear that Wyre Council had announced it will re-open Garstang and Thornton when lockdown restrictions allow but have given no commitment to re-opening Fleetwood swimming baths. I share her concern that the YMCA has also failed to confirm the reopening of the centre.

Today Julie is a teacher, business motivator, sports coach, swimmer and counsellor, and whilst she lives in Loughborough still works in Fleetwood part time as a life coach and psychotherapist.

“It’s devastating to hear that both Wyre Council and the YMCA aren’t ruling out closing the leisure centre,” Julie told me. “In a survey of over 80,000 people it was found that swimmers had a 28% lower risk of early death and a 41% lower risk of   early death from heart disease and stroke. The benefits of swimming are massive for all ages. Living on an island, we’re never that far away from water and it’s critical that children have access to learning this essential lifesaving skill. In adults, swimming can reduce stress and it helps older people to stay mentally and physically agile.”

Julie is joining me in calling on the YMCA and Wyre Council to recognise the importance of the leisure centre and to make a commitment to reopen it as soon as the lockdown restrictions are lifted.

I’ve raised before in the Fleetwood Weekly News my concerns about the high number of rough sleepers we have in the town. Before lockdown my office was daily helping homeless people to find a roof over their heads. It’s a joke then that the Conservative Housing Minister Luke Hall has written to councils to suggest that rough sleepers should move in with family and friends. I bet they’re kicking themselves that they hadn’t thought of that themselves. The Government pledged to end rough sleeping for good after providing emergency accommodation during this health crisis. Now, Luke Hall has shown a woeful lack of understanding about the complex reasons why so many people sleep rough in this country; if rough sleepers were able to return to their friends and family, they would not be sleeping rough. They need somewhere safe to live and the support to make a go of it.

Finally, as Shadow Minister for Young People I’m really concerned about the impact the health crisis is having and will continue to have in the months and years to come on our youngsters. One million young people are now facing unemployment and mounting evidence from across the youth sector reveals the awful impact this is having upon young people’s mental health. Yet none of the Government’s support packages have included young people.

As an absolute minimum the Prime Minister should meet with the youth sector for a dedicated press conference for young people, so the Prime Minister can answer their questions and concerns about the pandemic. In addition, the Government should allow under-18s to submit questions to the daily press conferences. If there’s any young people struggling and would like to chat with me please call my office to make an appointment 01253 490440 or email me via



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