Anger in Manchester as council spends £300k on hosting Australians

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australian-relayRead Manchester Evening News

A furious row has broken out over £300,000 of taxpayers’ money being spent on bringing elite Australian swimmers to Manchester – as public baths in the city face being shut in budget cuts.

The cash is being paid to Swimming Australia Ltd to cover the cost of hosting the Aussie team in Manchester for major sports events in Britain.

As part of the deal, swimmers chose Manchester as their base ahead of last summer’s London Olympics and will return for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. […]

Levenshulme councillor James Hennigan said: “I would much rather the money was spent on nurturing our home-grown talent rather than it being passed to the Australians. It’s disgusting that they are making this cheque out.”

Campaigner Kirsten Hobby, from Save Levenshulme Baths, said the money should have been spent on local facilities rather than a ‘showboating’ project. […]

The payments were also queried by former Australian swimming team coach Bill Sweetenham, who said the Aussies had done ‘extremely well’ out of the deal.

Speaking from New Zealand, Mr Sweetenham said: “It’s common practice for countries to offer the use of facilities in kind, like free or cheap pool space, but it doesn’t usually involve money changing hands.”

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