A "GREAT" free swimming scheme will only be available to children in one town.

Despite widespread praise for the scheme from members of the public, Maldon District Council and the Mayor of Maldon, only children from Burnham will be able to swim for free at Blackwater Leisure Centre in Maldon - and there are no signs that the popular idea will be extended.

Burnham Town Council joined forces with Moat Housing, which made a substantial donation to the scheme, and Leisure Connections, which run Blackwater Leisure Centre under contract from Maldon District Council, to offer free swimming and free transport throughout August to children aged 16 and under from Burnham.

But all the signs are that the example set by Burnham Town Council will not be followed by other councils this summer or extended to include children from the district's other towns and villages this year.

Mayor of Maldon David Denyer said: "It is a great scheme for Burnham and a very good initiative but there are already facilites for swimming here.

"Why should we give free swimming to children, it would be more of a district council matter with their leisure section. What Burnham has done is a good idea for them but if we got funding we would like to choose what we could do for the best for Maldon.

"However the town council would like to see more facilities for children during the school holidays to keep them occupied and anything we can do to encourage people to do exercise has got to be a good thing.

"If the district council is determined to encourage extra activities then this is a good way of them doing it."

But Maldon District Council passed responsibility for any similar scheme elsewhere back to the parishes.

Vice chairman of Maldon District Council's community services committee David Williams said: "This is a great scheme that Burnham Town Council has decided to fund for the children of Burnham.

"The parish council's of the district may wish to consider offering similar schemes.

"The district council already offers a comprehensive physical activity programme for the whole district.

"The Get Active programme promotes healthy living, fun and sports for all ofthe district's children.

"Maldon District Council has also made available £200,000 available tofund a grants schemefor town and parish council's.

"The scheme will fundcapital improvements throughout the District and applications will be considered later this year."