Pool fee rises deplored

Trying to stay afloat: Rooty Hill RSL youth swim club members are making a big splash about restructured pool entry fees. "We will lose kids if prices go up," president Tony Portelli said. Picture: Gene Ramirez

Trying to stay afloat: Rooty Hill RSL youth swim club members are making a big splash about restructured pool entry fees. "We will lose kids if prices go up," president Tony Portelli said. Picture: Gene Ramirez

AS the temperature rises this summer, so will aquatic centre fees across Blacktown City.

Rooty Hill RSL youth swim club president Tony Portelli fears membership could drop this summer as the club celebrates its 50 anniversary.

He met council staff yesterday to discuss concerns about the standardised pool fee restructure which replaced 250 different fees for aquatic centres and pools across the region.

His biggest concern is losing swimmers aged 16 and over who will now pay adult prices.

"There's been no consultation whatsoever," Mr Portelli said. "Not one person contacted the club. Because of the area we're in, we have a lot of single parents who won't be able to afford it because every cent counts. Instead of getting a 20 visit pass, they may pay as they go. The club has been in this community for 50 years and we want to continue to support it."

Mayor Len Robinson argued people were given a chance to have their say before fees went up. At least four clubs have since expressed concerns to the council about the new fees.

Swim Club Emerton and Seven Hills Toongabbie RSL youth clubs are in ongoing talks while Riverstone Dolphins are up in arms over a 455 per cent increase in pool hire fees.

"It was debated half a dozen times in the council chamber and advertised in the local papers," Cr Robinson told the Star. "It's not as if we snuck it through. I don't see why Blacktown ratepayers should subsidise pool fees to the tune of $3 million."

Rooty Hill RSL youth swim club relocated to Emerton Leisure Centre last year after years at the currently closed Mount Druitt pool.

"We had an deal for five years that we could pay Mount Druitt prices," Mr Portelli said.

"We train in an unheated outdoor pool, which is different to an indoor leisure centre one. I hope this can be resolved, otherwise we will lose kids through swimming."

Labor councillors hope to debate the matter again tomorrow night.

"We're not attacking pool fees, just the impact it has on swim clubs," Cr Alan Pendleton said.

What Rooty Hill RSL youth club swimmers used to pay:

Adult swim admission: $4.70

Child swim admission: $2.90

Spectator: $2.70

20 visit adult pass: $68

20 visit child/spectator pass: $39

All centre six month family pass for Blacktown City residents (two adults and three school aged children) $282

All centre six month family pass for non Blacktown City residents $310.30

NEW FEES:

Adult swim admission: $5.60

Child admission (new clause for ages 5-15) :$4.20

Spectator: $2.80

20 visit adult pass: $86.90

20 visit child pass: $67.20

Spectator pass: $44.80

All centre six month family pass for Blacktown City residents (two adults and three children aged 5-15) $301.20

All centre six month family pass for non Blacktown City residents: $331.30

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