LEISURE centre chiefs have been accused of ‘failing the disabled people of Andover’ by prioritising children’s parties over a decades-long offering for swimmers with disabilities.

Andover and District Sports Association for the Disabled (ADSAD), which offers sports activities for anyone with a disability of any age, will be relegated to Andover Leisure Centre’s smaller pool, when the new site opens in April, whenever a ‘splash party’ event is booked.

The group had used the main swimming pool at the old leisure centre on a regular basis for decades and relies on a having larger pool for its member’s needs.

John Harpham, chairman of ADSAD, said: “The smaller teaching pool is OK for teaching swimming but not ideal for the majority of our members who are all capable of swimming lengths.

“The adults who come want to swim lengths. They want to get fit.

“The children will love the learners pool but that’s not what we are there for. We are there to give them confidence in the deep pool.”

ADSAD had been told that its previous booking slot – 5.30pm on Saturday evenings for the 25m pool – would be honoured when the new pool opened. But when splash parties are booked, this will no longer be the case and ADSAD will need to use the 15m training pool.

Places for People (PFP), which operates the leisure centre, has outlined that ADSAD will be free to use the larger pool when there are no splash parties booked and the company estimates it will host one event a month, but there is no guarantee on this number.

John added: “We’ll be turning up and not knowing what pool we will be in.

“PFP state their commitment to social responsibility but I am afraid that in this case they are failing the disabled people of Andover.”

A spokesperson for Andover Leisure Centre said, “We will continue to communicate with the ADSAD and have since had the preview tour of the facilities that was arranged.

“The teaching pool has improved accessibility and offers a movable floor and access to the interactive splash zone.”

John was offered a tour of the new leisure centre facilities this week, including the changing rooms and the pools.