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COUNTY bosses will consider offering free swimming and excercise classes to some residents in East Lancashire, as part of scheme to encourage healthy living.

Lancashire County Council (LCC) has looked at the success of the Re:fresh programme in Blackburn with Darwen, and are planning to introduce similar projects in Hyndburn, Rossendale, Burnley and Pendle.

Re:fresh offers all Blackburn with Darwen residents free access to dozens of swimming sessions and excercise classes at the borough’s leisure centres, with badminton courts also available for free with a Beez Card, which helps the council monitor the scheme.

Azhar Ali, health boss at LCC, said Rossendale and Pendle would each be given about £100,000 to launch pilot schemes, with more funding to be sought for the other boroughs, but the details are yet to be decided.

He added: “It won’t be as comprehensive as the Blackburn scheme at this stage, as it’s not going to be offered to everyone. They will look to target the most deprived areas.”

A spokesman for LCC said: "The Re:fresh programme has run successfully in Blackburn with Darwen and we're working closely with our district councils to learn from Blackburn with Darwen's experience.

“This will enable us to join up and build on all the valuable activity that is already taking place across East Lancashire.

"For example, exercise has many benefits for people's physical and mental health, and we feel that this programme should focus on encouraging people who are currently inactive to start taking more exercise earlier in life so they stay well for longer in the future.

"We would look to support community-led physical activity schemes or innovative ways to encourage people to become active, rather than contribute towards existing activity programmes."

East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen have some of the worst levels of deprivation in the country, bringing low life-expectancy and health problems for many residents.