Leisure company bailed out by taxpayers hikes 120-year-old swimming club’s fees

Leisure company bailed out by taxpayers hikes 120-year-old swimming club's fees
Tunbridge Wells Leisure Centre fees increase

RTW Monson Swimming Club, which was founded in 1901, say they will no longer be able to afford to swim in Tunbridge Wells due to the price hike.

Last week, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s cabinet approved a taxpayer bailout to Fusion Lifestyle to enable the leisure company to reopen the Council’s three sports centres in St John’s Road, Putlands in Paddock Wood, and the Weald Sports Centre in Cranbrook.

As reported in the Times earlier this month, a deal was struck that has seen the Council agree to vary the contact with Fusion – a registered charity – waiving a £249,634 management fee and also handing over £420,000 to the leisure provider to keep the centres running.

But despite the £670,000 bailout, RTW Monson Swimming Club, which has been using the pool in St John’s Sports Centre in Tunbridge Wells since it opened in 1974, say Fusion have increased their fees by as much as 75 per cent since the pool reopened on September 4.

Mark Leman, chairman of the club, which has around 300 members, told the Times: “They have adjusted the times that the swimming pool is now open, and have said if we wish to continue our swim sessions outside this time we have to pay as much as 75 per cent more than we paid before.

“But even for sessions during Fusion’s 8am to 8pm time slots, they have increased the fees by at least 19 per cent – we simply can’t afford it.”

He continued: “We are a voluntary organisation and we have had to reduce the number of people in our sessions from 60 swimmers to just 36 due to Covid.”

He added: “It means we simply cannot afford to go there. And to have a Tunbridge Wells swimming club unable to swim in Tunbridge Wells just breaks my heart.”

A spokesperson for Fusion said they were ‘committed’ to getting Monson Swimming Club back into the St John’s Sports Centre.

But added: “As part of the remobilisation of the centre following lockdown, we are meeting with all clubs to ensure that their policies and procedures meet the new strict requirements of their National Governing Bodies, in this case Swim England.

“As part of the review, we have informed Monson that we have had to reduce hours and capacities, in order to follow new guidance, which may ultimately have an impact on costs.  

“However, we are committed to ensuring we work with Monson to mitigate these as much as possible.”

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