Swimming clubs fighting not to sink

RISING fees and at an Ipswich swimming pool are threatening to sink the clubs that help to keep the building afloat.In an attempt to help the Fore Street pool match its running costs, the borough council has increased the hire charge by 40 per cent.

RISING fees and at an Ipswich swimming pool are threatening to sink the clubs that help to keep the building afloat.

In an attempt to help the Fore Street pool match its running costs, the borough council has increased the hire charge by 40 per cent. The cost has risen from £29 an hour to £41.10.

Derrick Corwin, of Sheldrake Drive, is a member of the Universal Divers club that uses the pool for an hour every Sunday morning.

There are 21 members in total, 11 adults and 10 children who used to pay £2.50 each but will now have to fork out £4 a session. A year ago none of the children could swim but now they can even snorkel wearing fins.


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Mr Corwin said: "The club started in 1963 and now we face the threat of closing.

"Members are having to dip further into their own pockets to help cover the costs that we have not budgeted for. If any people drop out to go to Crown Pools instead then we are finished.

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"The only way we can survive is to take on new members, but we have 21 already and the pool's limit is 30."

The council planned to open up the clubs more by offering those that are open to everyone levels of discount up to 50pc.

To achieve the maximum discount the club must be affiliated to a national body and have public liability insurance of £2 million, as well as meeting other tough criteria.

This is a challenge many clubs won't be able to meet.

But Ipswich Snorkel Club hopes to escape the new fees after an initial fear of going under.

Carl Studd, instructor and vice-chairman, said: "At first we thought that we would not be able to carry on. But as we are affiliated to the British Sub-Aqua club, which is a national organisation, and many of our members are children then we should qualify for the 50 per cent discount.

"This means our charges should stay the same but I am concerned for other groups whose fees have doubled."

A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said: "This system of fees for our leisure facilities will make it easier for those with less money to get and keep fit.

"The new system of charges came in on October 1 after widespread consultation with the public and sports clubs. The three charges for individuals are now based on an affordable adult rate, a discounted price for certain groups such as senior citizens and students, and a new, lowest charge rate reflecting people's ability to pay. Some fees will rise, others will either stay the same or will go down.

"We are confident this is a fairer charging system for our customers. It would have been easy to carry on in the old way and introduce a blanket increase but we wanted to help those who don't have much money to enjoy the same advantages as everyone else.

"We want Ipswich to be fitter and fairer and good health should not depend on one's ability to pay. "We are quite aware that some individuals face a small increase if they, for example, swim only occasionally.

"Likewise, sports clubs who can show us that they help their members in a positive way will pay less than purely social organisations. That is the fairest way."

N What do you think? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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