Alive Leisure centre users in King’s Lynn, Downham Market and Hunstanton face price hike
- Credit: Ian Burt
Thousands of leisure centre users in West Norfolk could face higher charges for sports facilities.
Councillors fear increased charges - described as over the level of inflation - for activities such as swimming could see less people taking part in them.
Alive Leisure has run Lynnsport, St James Pool, the Oasis at Hunstanton and Downham Leisure since 2014.
The charitable trust took over the centres, along with the King's Lynn Corn Exchange, from West Norfolk council. Now council papers reveal Alive is facing a deficit.
Alive has confirmed that it is reviewing its charges. In a statement, it said: 'Alive Leisure is a charitable trust, and therefore it is important that we constantly scrutinise all aspects of our business, to ensure we are providing the best services and value for money for all our customers. Any surplus funds are reinvested back into the service to continually improve.
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'Since Alive Leisure began in 2014 we have strived to improve the quality of services we provide. As part of this ongoing process, we are currently undergoing a consultation period with our stakeholders, including customers and West Norfolk council.
'The process is looking at the entire format of the fees and charges matrix, to ensure a fair, transparent and simplified pricing policy, which encourages customers in our borough to live a healthy and active lifestyle.'
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Alive has been discussing its options with West Norfolk council. Two meetings have been held behind closed doors but the proposed increases have so far not been made public.
Minutes reveal councillors have expressed concern about the impact of increases which are described as 'well over the level of inflation'.
At one meeting, council leader Brian Long said increasing charges of 'pay to play' activities such as swimming could put families off swimming as it could work out cheaper to do an alternative activity.
Alive is an independent organisation but it is under contract to the council to provide an agreed level of service.
Elizabeth Nockolds, the council's portfolio holder for health, said: 'We understand the need for Alive Leisure to review their fees and charges. Like all organisations they face financial challenges and need to make sure the books balance. We have and will continue to work with them throughout the consultation period. If there are any changes to the pricing structure for Alive Leisure services these will be implemented in April.'