Anger as OAP swimming fees soar
AN 83-YEAR-OLD man has slammed Tendring District Council for hiking the price of its annual swimming pass for senior citizens by nearly £100.Ken Berryman, who lives in Horsley Cross, has now boycotted the Dovercourt swimming pool where he was a regular for more than 20 years and travels to Colchester for his exercise each day.
AN 83-YEAR-OLD man has slammed Tendring District Council for hiking the price of its annual swimming pass for senior citizens by nearly £100.
Ken Berryman, who lives in Horsley Cross, has now boycotted the Dovercourt swimming pool where he was a regular for more than 20 years and travels to Colchester for his exercise each day.
Mr Berryman, who swims five times a week, also questioned the proposed privatisation of Tendring's pools which could go ahead next year.
However, despite the growing resentment from senior citizens, Tendring District Council said it was felt the price hike was something which could be afforded by OAPS.
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The previous annual season pass for OAPs in Tendring of £126 now stands at £216 for those who pay by direct debit – a rise of nearly 70%.
Mr Berryman said the changes, which came into effect on July 1, meant that many senior citizens would no longer be able to afford to keep fit and claimed the NHS would end up picking up the increased bills.
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He said: "The council has said it may be reviewed, which means they are seeing if they can get away with it and if they can, they will.
"I have been going to the pool in Dovercourt for donkeys years and know most of the OAPs. They don't go there for enjoyment; they go there to keep the joints working.
"Some of their swimming is pathetic, but they are doing it to keep fit and without it they will be more of a liability to the NHS."
Mr Berryman and his wife, Hazel, have attempted to draw pensioners' attention to the prices they by telling them what they would pay elsewhere.
Mr Berryman claimed a senior citizen's annual pass at Crown Pools in Ipswich would cost £126 when paid for by direct debit and £120 at Hadleigh swimming pool.
The couple said that with the amount pensioners were having to pay in council tax, the costs for swimming just did not add up.
Last night the head of leisure services, Robert Taylor, Liberal Democrat, said if people stopped swimming, the decision could be reviewed at a later stage.
He said: "Consultants said to us 'why are you doing this big discount?' We are not against elderly people getting cheap swimming, but all the discounts have to be paid for.
"There is currently a £500,000 per year subsidy to keep the swimming and leisure centres going, so if we were to keep on with this high level of subsidy for the elderly it would have to come from the rates."
He added the main discounts were now available for disabled people and those on benefits, but OAPs could still receive a 50p discount from the normal price for a swim.