CHARGES: Families will be priced out

I write with some despair of the decision by Active Northumberland to introduce price changes for all its members in Northumberland.

Thursday, 3rd November 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 3:30 pm

What is of paramount concern is that there appears to have been no consultation with members and the changes are being introduced at extremely short notice. Active Northumberland should be ashamed.

An adult single membership is going to cost £32 per month on a 12-month contract, or £40 per month on a three-month contract.

Members will get access to 14 different leisure centres in Northumberland, use of classes and the swimming pool. However, a number of people use just one of those facilities, therefore a flexible membership package should be offered.

If anyone wants to use the facilities pay as your go, it’s going to cost a whopping £7 per visit. That’s more than double what other local gyms in the area charge. Local gyms also offer a cheaper monthly membership price that you can cancel at any time.

The changes Active Northumberland is imposing are much more expensive and will not be affordable to all, which should be a concern for a council-run facility.

I am also flabbergasted at the price increase at the Tranquillity Spa at Ashington Leisure Centre. A bolt-on to membership was £15 extra per month, a spa-only membership was £30 per month, or pay as you go was £10 per session. Now there is no membership or bolt-on. Instead anyone wanting to use the spa will have to pay £25 per session.

I doubt that will be affordable to the vast majority of working people, let alone those on benefits. It’s unlikely anyone using the gym or attending a class will pay that sort of money so the long-term likelihood is that the spa will close, which would be a massive shame.

I have noted that a lot people are up in arms about these changes and are cancelling their membership.

For some people their membership increases are 33 per cent. The price increase to use the spa alone is up 150 per cent, yet Active Northumberland says the prices are fairer. How is a 33 per cent or 150 per cent increase and paying for facilities you don’t use fair?

I think it’s a disgrace what Active Northumberland is doing, and I fear a large number of people, especially families, will be priced out of using the local leisure facilities provided by the council.

I just hope it will reconsider and provide flexible membership options for everyone that are affordable and for facilities they actually use.

I would like to see individual site membership made available at a cheaper rate and also gym/classes only, and swim-only membership options.

Neil Summers

Newbiggin-by-the Sea