Families "priced out" of Preston's West View Leisure Centre where an hour's swimming costs £20 for one parent and two kids

Families in Ribbleton fear they are being priced out of their local pool, where an hour's swimming now costs £20 for one parent and two children.

Thursday, 11th November 2021, 12:42 pm
Updated Friday, 12th November 2021, 10:10 am

The price hikes at Better West View Leisure Centre, off Ribbleton Lane, follow its refurbishment in September, with some families saying they can no longer afford to take their children for a swim.

Since the centre was refurbed at a cost of £120,000, a dip in the swimming pool now costs £10 per adult and £5 per child, for non-members.

It means casual swimmers and gym users must fork out £10 for a 'day pass' which grants them full access to all the facilities at the centre, with no option to pay for a single swim session.

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Defending its price hike, the company claims that the cost of a family swim at West View "compares favourably" to a visit to the cinema

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As well as hiking prices, West View also permanently closed its learner pool (12.5 metres), which families with young children often preferred, instead of the deeper, 25 metre, six-lane adult pool.

The small pool closure and the increased cost of a family swim has led to a backlash in the community, with some parents saying they have been 'priced out' of their local leisure centre.

In response, Better has encouraged families to sign up for monthly membership in order to make regular visits more affordable.

As well as hiking prices, West View also closed the learner pool (12.5 metres), which families with young children often preferred, instead of the deeper, 25 metre, six-lane adult pool

The cost of a monthly adult membership is £30 and £18 for juniors - a total of £96 per month for two parents and two children, meaning families must hand over £1,152 per year for access to their local swimming pool.

Better said its price 'restructuring' was made in response to the pandemic and lockdowns, when leisure centres were forced to close for an extended period.

Defending its price hike, the company claims that the cost of a family swim at West View "compares favourably" to a visit to the cinema.

A spokesman for Better said: "Following the challenges that we faced during the pandemic, including enforced lockdowns and having to operate at reduced capacity, we have had to restructure the way we operate West View Better Health Leisure Centre, to ensure it remains viable.

Refurbishment of West View Better Health Leisure Centre in Preston. From left to right: Mark Sesnan (CEO of GLL) ; Councillor Jennifer Mein (Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing); Jolene Swann (General Manager Better Preston Partnership); Mayor of Preston, Councillor Javed Iqbal; Tim Bestford (GLL’s Head of Service North Region); Councillor Zafar Coupland (Deepdale Ward); Derek Jones (Better Partnership Manager South Lakeland, Copeland and Preston).

"The £10 adult entry pass now offers access to all the facilities at the leisure centre, from the pool to the gym and health suite, for a whole day.

"Children pay £5 for entry and we also offer a 30 per cent price reduction for concessions.

"We think this compares favourably to the cost of an adult cinema ticket at £8 or child cinema ticket for £6.50 to watch a single film.

"Regular users would benefit by signing up for monthly membership where rates are £30 for a full adult membership, £24 for an off-peak membership and £18 for a junior membership."

Since West View Leisure Centre was refurbed at a cost of £120,000 in September, a dip in the swimming pool now costs £10 per adult and £5 per child, for non-members

But this response has done little to quell the backlash, with some saying the cost of a full membership is just too much for families who only use it every now and then.

Better also blamed the closure of the children's learner pool on a lack of funding from the Government, despite the company being handed more than £322,000 from the Government's Sport England Recovery Fund to help cover the cost of a post-pandemic refurb of West View and Fulwood Leisure Centre.

More than £120,000 of the funding was spent on upgrading West View's pool and sauna suite, with works including a full retiling of the pool tank, repainting of the pool hall and a newly refurbished sauna and steam room.

A Better spokesman said: "Thank you to customers who have contacted us about the closure of the Small pool at West View Better Health Leisure centre.

"We are saddened that requests to the Government for extra funding to address the loss of revenue during Covid were not heeded. This may have kept the pool open.

"Within available resources, GLL (Greenwich Leisure Ltd, operating under the brand "Better") and Preston City Council are proud to offer two first class facilities which we hope will be instrumental in getting more people more active more often.

"£120k has been recently invested into refurbishing West View main pool. At Fulwood Leisure Centre the Small pool remains open and available to use.

"Our not for profit social enterprise remains committed to providing accessible facilities for local communities.

"We invite pool users to join us in lobbying the government for more funding."

Preston City Council has been approached for comment.

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