FREE leisure sessions for children over the summer holidays have been demanded by councillors to improve physical and mental health.

The Conservative opposition on Bradford Council claims such measures are necessary for children and young people who have spent several months indoors with little exercise or activities.

The councillors say that now leisure centres and swimming pools are reopening, the council should offer free swimming and activity sessions throughout the school holidays to all children.

Cllr Rebecca Poulsen, Conservative spokesman for sport and leisure, said: "As facilities start to reopen it is important that children and young people are encouraged to use them. 

"By offering free sessions across the summer holiday period this will make it easier for families to get their children active and improve their well-being.  It is a simple idea that would welcomed by families across the district. 

"It has been a very difficult time for children and young people who haven’t been able to go to school, see their friends and do any out of school activities like swimming or football."

In response, the Labour-run council said it was running some free activities across the district as part of additional holiday activity sessions for children and families, as well as family archery and canoe sessions at Doe Park in Denholme where Bradford Leisure Card discounts Will apply.

A spokesman said: “We also encourage families to take to the outdoors as much as possible, to go walking or cycling and to enjoy their local parks and green spaces.

“We all want children to stay fit and healthy, but unfortunately it does take time to safely reopen facilities in the right way and we must proceed with caution at this crucial time.

"We are still in a pandemic with an infection rate that remains too high, so reducing the spread of the virus has to be our key priority.

The spokesman said the "safe, phased reopening" of council leisure facilities began with gyms at Keighley and Thornton on July 25, followed by Sedbergh on August 1 for gym sessions and fitness classes only. Other centres will open in due course.

The spokesman said Dance for Life and Ravenscliffe Community Association were running free socially-distanced dance sessions on pavements and gardens in partnership with JU:MP at Allerton, Ravenscliffe, Fagley and Peel Park throughout the school holidays as a "fun and safe activity for children and their families".