Alnwick Dolphins face huge hike in fees due to increase in Active Northumberland charges

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A swimming club is facing a huge hike in its fees which would leave members having to fork out an extra £36 a month.

Alnwick Dolphins use Willowburn Sports and Leisure Centre for their regular swimming sessions but Active Northumberland plan to increase charges from September.

Alnwick Dolphins chairman Mike Samuels explained: “The club has had a long-standing arrangement with Active Northumberland whereby the members pay a flat monthly fee of £19.20 that covers use of the pool during club training sessions.

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"The approach recently by Active Northumberland was a request to change this arrangement to a lane hire model, whereby Active Northumberland would invoice the club at a rate of £12/hour per lane, and stop charging individuals the £19.20.

The swimming pool at Willowburn Sports and Leisure Centre in Alnwick.The swimming pool at Willowburn Sports and Leisure Centre in Alnwick.
The swimming pool at Willowburn Sports and Leisure Centre in Alnwick.

“The club committee has looked at how they can adjust the budgets of the club to accommodate this transition. This will unfortunately involve a price increase in the monthly charges for members. As always, we will endeavour to minimise the impact on already stretched household budgets.”

The club will also explore and develop a focus on increasing the income from non subscription streams, such as local sponsorship, grants and social fundraising activities.

Additionally, it will try to increase club membership from 76 to a maximum of 90.

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Mr Samuels continued: “Whilst the club is looking to adapt and negotiate a more manageable price transition, some of our membership are quite rightly questioning the value that our swimmers will get from this change, which is in effect quite a considerable price rise, representing a 187% increase in the fees the club will be paying to Active Northumberland (from £1,478 to £4,248 per month) – equivalent to each swimmer paying a monthly fee of £55.16 per month.

"We continue to work with our partners at Willowburn and Active Northumberland, but it is important that the outcome is amicable and equitable, so the club can continue to provide for the community and our swimmers can continue to perform at the highest level.”

Active Northumberland explained that it has been in negotiations with Alnwick Dolphins since April 2022 concerning the need to change the way in which it charges for services and pool usage.

A spokesperson explained: "The purpose of this is to ensure a fair and transparent pricing system that aligns with our other clubs in the county that use our facilities.

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"The price charged to the club has not seen an increase to the monthly fee in the last five years, and so we have discussed ways in which the club can use space more efficiently by paying for specific swimming lanes in the pool on an hourly basis.

"This helps keep their costs to a minimum as well as ensuring that Active Northumberland can create space for other members and customers to enjoy the pool space.

“Active Northumberland has experienced substantial increases in costs to keep our services running both through Covid and during this current cost of living crisis, and this means that we are forced to continually review our pricing policy to ensure that we can keep our pools open.

“We are fully committed to ensuring all children are given their optimum opportunity to reach their full potential and we look forward to working with Alnwick Dolphins in helping them expand their member base in the future."

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