Northumberland County Council says that the changes – to come into effect from Tuesday, November 1 – will create a fairer and simpler system and will introduce an easy-to-follow set of clear prices.
The structure will be in place at all 14 Active Northumberland leisure centres, including the Swan Centre in Berwick, Willowburn in Alnwick, and Rothbury Pool and Gym.
The council says that, just like mobile-phone contracts, the value gets better when people sign up for longer.
For instance, full access to gym, swim and classes facilities at all 14 of Active Northumberland’s leisure centres will be available for a pay-as-you-go price of £40 a month, on a minimum three-month deal.
That can be cut by a further 20 per cent to £32 if people sign up for a year’s membership via direct debit.
Swim-only membership for three months will cost £32 a month.
Concessionary prices will still be offered to customers on a range of social benefits who cannot afford the full cost and could be prevented from enjoying the facilities and a healthier lifestyle.
This will replace concessions that were based on age rather than ability to pay. Lower prices for children will also remain available, but OAP category memberships will be discontinued.
Lorraine Dewison, chief executive of Active Northumberland, said: “We want to protect, maintain and improve services and we have instead decided to think creatively to retain as many services as we can for residents.
“As part of the move to a simpler set-up, sales of the Active Card have ended and users are encouraged to sign up for membership to secure the best prices.”
Full details will be announced in due course.