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CHARGES: How are such rises ‘fair’?

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Two headlines recently caught my eye: “Council to reshape services to improve public health”, and “Leisure centres announce new pricing structure”, (Northumberland Gazette, October 20).

The first headlined story had a quote from Northumberland county councillor Susan Dungworth, cabinet member for adult care and public health. She said: “Improving health and well-being and reducing health inequalities are key priorities for us.”

I presume she was aware of the information sent out by Active Northumberland, her council’s leisure services and libraries organisation, which appeared under the second headline.

In the Gazette piece there’s a reference to “better value admission charges”, but curiously no mention of the huge countywide price increases levied from November 1 at the health-improving sports and leisure centres.

For example, at the Willowburn Centre, the cost of a Family Swim increases by almost 25 per cent, from £11.30 to £14.10.

Meanwhile, at Blyth Sports Centre, the hourly booking for the five-a-side football court goes up by £4 to £40, a similar inflationary hike to that imposed last year.

Active Northumberland has invested public money in a double-page sports and leisure centres advertisement, which includes a strap line “New simple, fair prices”.

Fair? How can the geniuses who devised this promotional campaign have the brass neck to call pricing changes which include such whopping increases “fair”?

And, surprise, surprise, the advert makes no reference to the higher prices.

May I suggest that in future, the people who run Active Northumberland pay more attention to openness and not treat Northumberland residents as gullible idiots.

Colin Heathcote,

Watershaugh Road,

Warkworth