Price hike fears as trust reveals Bradwell pool will open early next month
- Credit: Archant
Before it has even opened its doors concerns have been raised about pricing at the revamped Phoenix Pool and Gym in Bradwell.
The £1.8m vision for the 1974-built pool was unveiled last year and saw a two-storey extension on a rejigged plot featuring a thermal spa, a 60-station gym and a fitness studio.
But delays have meant the facility, which was due to open for the start of the summer holidays, is still being renovated, with a new opening date set for September 1.
Meanwhile prices have been released for memberships, with a pre-launch offer made available. An annual membership - which gives access to all five leisure centres run by the Sentinel Leisure Trust - would usually be £394.45, with a pre-launch offer of £299.50. Or for those who wish to pay monthly it would be £34.95 per month, or £29.95 in the pre-launch offer.
For one Gorleston man, these prices seemed too high for a trust which has charitable aims and a council-owned facility. Phil Joseph, 52, wrote on the Phoenix Facebook page to ask about pricing, but said his posts were removed.
He said: 'I was very disappointed to have my two polite enquiries deleted from the page. I've suffered ill health for a number of years and being able to swim every few days and use a gym occasionally would be greatly beneficial to me so I have been looking around at various prices. When I discovered they were refurbishing and building a gym I got my hopes up until I saw the price.'
Mr Joseph, of Lowestoft Road, has had severe chronic fatigue for 15 years. He was shocked to find the prices of the Phoenix would be comparable to high-end commercial gyms.
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He said the charitable objectives of Sentinel Leisure Trust - who run the Phoenix and the Marina Centre in the borough - meant he had a problem with them charging such a high price. These objectives include providing facilities for those who need it due to their 'youth, age, infirmity or disability, financial hardship or social circumstances.'
Mr Joseph said another gym in the area charges '£25 for daytime membership or £35 for full membership, but a couple can join for £60 a month. That's the same price as Phoenix - well 10p more. But they are a business not a charity.'
But Sentinel managing director Stuart Everett said the trust's charitable aims were met in other ways, such as providing health improvement initiatives or GP referral sessions.
He said these objectives were met through a 'diverse means of local activity and social engagement, not just through cheap prices.'
He added: 'Also being disabled myself I earn a fair salary and can afford to pay for local services so we need to have balance in our access to services.'
The comparison with other gyms was unfair, he felt, as some were able to bring in other income from elsewhere, so were able to have lower gym prices.
For those concerned they wouldn't be able to use the Phoenix - for whatever reason - Mr Everett encouraged them to get in touch by phone or email.
He said there was a wide range of schemes available to help people access services, adding: 'They can contact the Phoenix and we can signpost them to the right places.'
Neighbourhood and communities group manager at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Robert Gregory, added: 'We're continually reviewing arrangements, recognising there are parts of the community who are not accessing facilities and we want them to help them to access them.
'But at the same time we can't subsidise to the extent we used to because times have changed. But we can absolutely continue to review what we are offering.'
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