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MEMBERS of Melksham Blue Pool have been left “flabbergasted” by changes to the cost of their membership, with some being told by Wiltshire Council that it’s increasing by almost 25%.
Wiltshire Council confirmed in May this year that it would be bringing 10 of its leisure centres managed by Places Leisure, including the Blue Pool, back under its own management from October.
Until this week, leisure centre members were unaware how this would impact their membership fees. But emails sent by Wiltshire Council to members days before the change of management, have revealed that some face “price hikes” of nearly 25%.
And parents of children that receive swimming lessons at Blue Pool have questioned why their child’s new Wiltshire Council swim school membership is more expensive than other leisure centres managed by the council.
Wiltshire Council has responded to the uproar, explaining that the “odd hiccup” may have resulted in some members being moved to the “incorrect membership”. The council has urged those members unhappy with the cost of their new membership to speak to their admin team about “downgrading” or “upgrading” their membership.
They have also said that swim school prices “should be consistent across the county”.
“I have been paying £37 a month to use the gym at the Blue Pool,” explained one Blue Pool member. “So I was flabbergasted to get an email from Wiltshire Council telling me that my new membership will be £46 a month – and in the same email the council says the ‘good news’ is that I don’t have to worry about amending my direct debit! Thanks Wiltshire Council!
“A 25% price hike is shocking – especially when there are no changes being made at the Blue Pool. And at a time when everyone is struggling financially, to add on over £100 a year on to someone’s membership, it’s not on! And I thought Wiltshire Council was meant to be encouraging everyone to be more active? Pricing people out of using their leisure centres is hardly encouraging.”
In response to the concerns, Wiltshire Council’s cabinet member for leisure, cllr Ian Blair-Pilling told Melksham News, “We are in the process of writing individually to each Places Leisure member to notify them of which membership they have been transferred to. In this complex process we identified the membership type closest to that currently being held by each individual customer, and with the closest price match. Those on the top band for membership for Places Leisure have been transferred to our equivalent scheme. Some prices will vary from Places Leisure to Wiltshire Council.
“As stated in the letter we have sent customers, the changes have been made automatically. Anyone wishing to change the membership scheme that they have been allocated to, such as downgrading, upgrading, or changing membership completely, can easily do so, and we are happy and ready to help. For any changes, we ask that people contact our admin team via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Our teams have been working very hard to prepare for the transfer, but we’re bound to experience the odd hiccup, and, with the amount of customers being transferred, some may have been moved to the incorrect membership.
“If that’s the case we will be in touch with them to rectify this shortly. No customer should receive a 25% increase on what they have been paying. If that’s what they’ve been informed, this has been done in error, and they should get in touch with us.
“Swim school prices should be consistent across the county, and if anyone feels the price they have been quoted is incorrect, they should let us know. We’re doing our best to keep any issues to a minimum and will rectify them as quickly as we can.
“The transfer ensures membership offers are consistent across all 20 of the council’s leisure centres from 1st October.
“When the transfer is complete there will be many benefits to customers in the future, including being able to offer a broader range of memberships and more concessionary rates.”