Olympic heroes criticise council's planned hike in sports fees

Olympic heroes criticise council's planned hike in sports fees

Olympic heroes criticise council's planned hike in sports fees

First published in News by

Olympic stars have attacked plans to increase the cost of playing sport in Brighton and Hove. 

Just months after the flame was extinguished at the London 2012 Games, Brighton and Hove City Council has revealed a proposal to introduce inflation-busting charges for some activities at its leisure centres.

The local authority claims hikes are needed so it can offer 40% discounts to those on benefits, which it believes will increase participation among the less wealthy.

But others, including heroes of London 2012, have criticised the move for passing the buck onto regular users.

Mark Hawkins, who was star of the Team GB Handball side, said: “It’s really, really disappointing – especially after the year we have had.

“Councils should be removing barriers to participation – not creating them.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in Europe with handball and I think we could learn a lot from how they do things.

“In Denmark, participation is the key. Sports centres charge the absolute minimum in an effort to get the whole community involved.

“It’s really frustrating. I get the feeling that too many people are trying to make money off the back of the Olympic legacy. It’s selfish really.”

Brighton-born Paralympian Ben Quilter, who picked up a bronze medal for judo last summer, said: “Given the state of public health I think we should be doing everything possible to get people active.

“The public reaction to both the Olympic and Paralympic Games was incredible and it would be a shame to see that momentum disappear.

“I just hope it doesn’t have any effect.”

The proposed hikes come as the city council carries out its annual review of charges at its leisure centres and swimming pools, which are run by Freedom Leisure.

It will mean those on a wide range of benefits, including jobseekers allowance, employment and support allowance child tax credit and pension credit, can get 40% off swimming, badminton, table tennis and gym membership.

But the bill will have to be paid by other customers who regularly do sports, such as outside football, squash and swimming.

Other prices, such as badminton court hire and indoor football, will only increase by the rate of inflation, which is currently 3%.

If approved by the cross-party economic development and culture committee on Thursday, the charges and the card will be introduced in April.

Geoffrey Bowden, chairman of the council’s economic development and culture committee, said: “Building on the Olympic legacy we want to increase participation in sports and physical activity and that is why we are introducing the card.

“The card is particularly designed to encourage those on low incomes to use the sports facilities and offers a significant discount for those who need it most. Some fees are increasing to help pay for the card. However, we are able to do this and still keep our prices cheaper than – or similar to – the regional average prices for the same sports activities.

“So our sports facilities are still offering incredibly good value for money and we are encouraging those who can afford it least to take part.”

Conservative councillor Tony Janio said: “Everybody is entitled to a life and encouraging more people take up sport may help improve people’s minds and motivate them.

“But if the council wants to do this it should find the money from elsewhere. It’s not fair to take this money from other users. It’s just plain daft.”

Labour councillor Warren Morgan said: “Anything which helps people on lower incomes at a time of cuts is to be welcomed.

However, we need more detail on when the card will be introduced and then whether the take-up of the card is widespread.

“The proposed big increase in fees may have a detrimental effect on participation in sport in the city at a time when we are trying to build on the legacy of the Olympics.”

The prices at Hollingbury Golf Course could also increase by up to 6%. This would put the cost of a seven-day season ticket at £620, although junior season tickets would be reduced to £95.

The local authority said this is to reflect the recent course improvements.

Comments (21)

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11:59am Thu 3 Jan 13

Hove Actually says...

Geoffrey Bowden should be made to report every month on the USE of the card not just the number issued as well as the total amount raised from the increased prices.

This will never happen though as this sort of person NEVER wants his grandiose verbosity actually checked.
Happy New Year to all those suffering under this useless Council
Geoffrey Bowden should be made to report every month on the USE of the card not just the number issued as well as the total amount raised from the increased prices. This will never happen though as this sort of person NEVER wants his grandiose verbosity actually checked. Happy New Year to all those suffering under this useless Council Hove Actually
  • Score: 0

12:28pm Thu 3 Jan 13

Fight_Back says...

I'm all for giving better access for ALL to sports facilities but it seems a somewhat retarded idea to potentially price some people out to allow others to get a massive discount.

The organisations such as Freedom Leisure and Impulse Leisure are badly run and waste money left right and centre. Impulse Leisure in-particular really do not give a monkey's about customer service. The contracts to run these facilities should include clauses to ensure prices and costs do not go up more than the rate of inflation.

When unemployment hit my family I'd much rather have been given access to free prescriptions and free dentistry than some gimmick of a gym membership. Even with the discount the money spent on it would have been much better directed at putting food on the table or paying the gas bill.

Rubbish idea, from rubbish councillors and rubbish council officers who don't live in the real world.
I'm all for giving better access for ALL to sports facilities but it seems a somewhat retarded idea to potentially price some people out to allow others to get a massive discount. The organisations such as Freedom Leisure and Impulse Leisure are badly run and waste money left right and centre. Impulse Leisure in-particular really do not give a monkey's about customer service. The contracts to run these facilities should include clauses to ensure prices and costs do not go up more than the rate of inflation. When unemployment hit my family I'd much rather have been given access to free prescriptions and free dentistry than some gimmick of a gym membership. Even with the discount the money spent on it would have been much better directed at putting food on the table or paying the gas bill. Rubbish idea, from rubbish councillors and rubbish council officers who don't live in the real world. Fight_Back
  • Score: 0

12:37pm Thu 3 Jan 13

NickBrt says...

But the Greens have got to find the money to throw at Travellers from somewhere...
But the Greens have got to find the money to throw at Travellers from somewhere... NickBrt
  • Score: 0

1:21pm Thu 3 Jan 13

Morpheus says...

I cannot understand these arguments. People who participate in sports should be the ones to pay for doing it. They should not expect anybody else to chip in to cut their costs. We have to pay the price of going to the cinema, holidays, cars, etc. What is so special about sport that people who want it have to be subsidised?
I cannot understand these arguments. People who participate in sports should be the ones to pay for doing it. They should not expect anybody else to chip in to cut their costs. We have to pay the price of going to the cinema, holidays, cars, etc. What is so special about sport that people who want it have to be subsidised? Morpheus
  • Score: 0

3:35pm Thu 3 Jan 13

Can this be says...

So we have our government suggesting that benefits have got out of control for too many people and now we have our green Council proposing huge discounts to people on various benefits.

Have they lost the plot or is it just a political 'pop' at the government?

It certainly does not suggest that any common sense is being used. Let us hope that the new Chief Executive can keep them in line.
So we have our government suggesting that benefits have got out of control for too many people and now we have our green Council proposing huge discounts to people on various benefits. Have they lost the plot or is it just a political 'pop' at the government? It certainly does not suggest that any common sense is being used. Let us hope that the new Chief Executive can keep them in line. Can this be
  • Score: 0

4:42pm Thu 3 Jan 13

Lady Smith says...

Morpheus wrote:
I cannot understand these arguments. People who participate in sports should be the ones to pay for doing it. They should not expect anybody else to chip in to cut their costs. We have to pay the price of going to the cinema, holidays, cars, etc. What is so special about sport that people who want it have to be subsidised?
But Morpheus, don't you get it? It's part of the Olympics 'legacy'...Anything to do with sport will get funding and support. Anything else - e.g. arts and cultural activities - forget it!
[quote][p][bold]Morpheus[/bold] wrote: I cannot understand these arguments. People who participate in sports should be the ones to pay for doing it. They should not expect anybody else to chip in to cut their costs. We have to pay the price of going to the cinema, holidays, cars, etc. What is so special about sport that people who want it have to be subsidised?[/p][/quote]But Morpheus, don't you get it? It's part of the Olympics 'legacy'...Anything to do with sport will get funding and support. Anything else - e.g. arts and cultural activities - forget it! Lady Smith
  • Score: 0

4:49pm Thu 3 Jan 13

SteveUK says...

They don't seem to realise that by trying to fund the "needy" in this way, they are totally reliant upon the "not-so-needy" carrying on and paying the increased charges.

Have they considered how they will fund it when all these "wealthy" users decide that they need the money for such trivial expenses as food and fuel?
They don't seem to realise that by trying to fund the "needy" in this way, they are totally reliant upon the "not-so-needy" carrying on and paying the increased charges. Have they considered how they will fund it when all these "wealthy" users decide that they need the money for such trivial expenses as food and fuel? SteveUK
  • Score: 0

4:54pm Thu 3 Jan 13

Tring says...

I am a regular user of council sports facilities and I don't have a problem with what's being proposed here, even though it will cost me more.

Just because the government says benefits are 'out of control' doesn't make it so. I'd suggest this is just part of their blame game. Far more out of control are top salaries, in both the public and private sector. A lot of powerful people would rather this fact wasn't highlighted.

I agree that the use of the discount card ought to be monitored, but I'd be willing to bet that it will lead to a rise in participation in sport. Hence, hopefully, less strain on the NHS - and everyone's a winner from that.

As for the point about the new Chief Executive keeping the council leadership 'in line' - who elected the chief executive? What's more, if you read the article, it states that this decision was taken by an all-party committee.

Clearly that isn't going to stop some people from blaming the Green administration though. I expect the rain and flooding is their fault too.
I am a regular user of council sports facilities and I don't have a problem with what's being proposed here, even though it will cost me more. Just because the government says benefits are 'out of control' doesn't make it so. I'd suggest this is just part of their blame game. Far more out of control are top salaries, in both the public and private sector. A lot of powerful people would rather this fact wasn't highlighted. I agree that the use of the discount card ought to be monitored, but I'd be willing to bet that it will lead to a rise in participation in sport. Hence, hopefully, less strain on the NHS - and everyone's a winner from that. As for the point about the new Chief Executive keeping the council leadership 'in line' - who elected the chief executive? What's more, if you read the article, it states that this decision was taken by an all-party committee. Clearly that isn't going to stop some people from blaming the Green administration though. I expect the rain and flooding is their fault too. Tring
  • Score: 0

5:29pm Thu 3 Jan 13

PETE OF QUEENS PARK says...

NickBrt wrote:
But the Greens have got to find the money to throw at Travellers from somewhere...
While we are at it where were all the travellers over Xmas and New Year there caravans were all parked on Devils Dyke road all seemed abandoned no cars or lights on anywhere did the Greens give them discount travel to return to there large houses in Ireland for the holiday.just a thought
[quote][p][bold]NickBrt[/bold] wrote: But the Greens have got to find the money to throw at Travellers from somewhere...[/p][/quote]While we are at it where were all the travellers over Xmas and New Year there caravans were all parked on Devils Dyke road all seemed abandoned no cars or lights on anywhere did the Greens give them discount travel to return to there large houses in Ireland for the holiday.just a thought PETE OF QUEENS PARK
  • Score: 0

5:47pm Thu 3 Jan 13

Vigilia says...

PETE OF QUEENS PARK wrote:
NickBrt wrote:
But the Greens have got to find the money to throw at Travellers from somewhere...
While we are at it where were all the travellers over Xmas and New Year there caravans were all parked on Devils Dyke road all seemed abandoned no cars or lights on anywhere did the Greens give them discount travel to return to there large houses in Ireland for the holiday.just a thought
They are not travellers, they are persons of no fixed abode who have chosen to give up conventional living for the financial benefit that alternative lifestyle gives them and costs the taxpayer a minimum of £200 per day per site to monitor and clear.

The 'travellers' on the transit site at Horsdean cost us £600 per day to subsidise.
[quote][p][bold]PETE OF QUEENS PARK[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]NickBrt[/bold] wrote: But the Greens have got to find the money to throw at Travellers from somewhere...[/p][/quote]While we are at it where were all the travellers over Xmas and New Year there caravans were all parked on Devils Dyke road all seemed abandoned no cars or lights on anywhere did the Greens give them discount travel to return to there large houses in Ireland for the holiday.just a thought[/p][/quote]They are not travellers, they are persons of no fixed abode who have chosen to give up conventional living for the financial benefit that alternative lifestyle gives them and costs the taxpayer a minimum of £200 per day per site to monitor and clear. The 'travellers' on the transit site at Horsdean cost us £600 per day to subsidise. Vigilia
  • Score: 0

6:31pm Thu 3 Jan 13

Tring says...

The bank bailout cost taxpayers £163,850,000,000. It screwed the public finances, and much of the need for it was down to greed and incompetence which has gone largely unpunished.

Which ought to be more of a cause for outrage than traveller sites. Horsedean was ok'd by the council when in conservative hands, I believe.
The bank bailout cost taxpayers £163,850,000,000. It screwed the public finances, and much of the need for it was down to greed and incompetence which has gone largely unpunished. Which ought to be more of a cause for outrage than traveller sites. Horsedean was ok'd by the council when in conservative hands, I believe. Tring
  • Score: 0

6:56pm Thu 3 Jan 13

Fresh air says...

The provocative headline doesn't fit the story. There's nothing in the quotes of the two athletes that criticises the council. The story is objective but the headline is subjective - a mistake that shouldn't happen in The Argus.
The provocative headline doesn't fit the story. There's nothing in the quotes of the two athletes that criticises the council. The story is objective but the headline is subjective - a mistake that shouldn't happen in The Argus. Fresh air
  • Score: 0

7:42pm Thu 3 Jan 13

Fight_Back says...

Tring wrote:
The bank bailout cost taxpayers £163,850,000,000. It screwed the public finances, and much of the need for it was down to greed and incompetence which has gone largely unpunished.

Which ought to be more of a cause for outrage than traveller sites. Horsedean was ok'd by the council when in conservative hands, I believe.
Good grief ...... no it didn't cost the taxpayer that much ..... that was the government offering the banks financial security and guarantees, it wasn't actually money going out.
[quote][p][bold]Tring[/bold] wrote: The bank bailout cost taxpayers £163,850,000,000. It screwed the public finances, and much of the need for it was down to greed and incompetence which has gone largely unpunished. Which ought to be more of a cause for outrage than traveller sites. Horsedean was ok'd by the council when in conservative hands, I believe.[/p][/quote]Good grief ...... no it didn't cost the taxpayer that much ..... that was the government offering the banks financial security and guarantees, it wasn't actually money going out. Fight_Back
  • Score: 0

8:25pm Thu 3 Jan 13

keswick says...

You put the prices up to subsidise other users which in turn means full paying users leave so who then pays the subsidy. We all know the answer to that, the Council Tax payers thats who.
You put the prices up to subsidise other users which in turn means full paying users leave so who then pays the subsidy. We all know the answer to that, the Council Tax payers thats who. keswick
  • Score: 0

8:57pm Thu 3 Jan 13

Martha Gunn says...

Hove Actually has a point. Although Bowden is one of the lesser fruit loops of Green Party on BHCC he does have A-list form on making grandiose statements which never quite come up to snuff. A close eye should be kept on everything he says and does. Careful monitoring of this is essential.
And the obvious afterthought - there seems to be no consideration in the report of the cost of the administration of what looks like a very convoluted scheme.
Hove Actually has a point. Although Bowden is one of the lesser fruit loops of Green Party on BHCC he does have A-list form on making grandiose statements which never quite come up to snuff. A close eye should be kept on everything he says and does. Careful monitoring of this is essential. And the obvious afterthought - there seems to be no consideration in the report of the cost of the administration of what looks like a very convoluted scheme. Martha Gunn
  • Score: 0

9:56pm Thu 3 Jan 13

Maxwell's Ghost says...

The membership cards to the Freedom Leisure centres have no photo ID on them and as some memberships mean the card can be used in up to six sites in the city, there are many membership cards probably already being shared among multiple users for one monthly direct debit so until that's sorted out I will cancel my membership and head elsewhere before I end up subsidising even more people.
The council is aware this goes on and even has signs up in some centres politely asking people not to do this.
And for reference the Freedom Leisure centres are now more expensive than some other leisure services ie the unis, schools and private gyms.
The membership cards to the Freedom Leisure centres have no photo ID on them and as some memberships mean the card can be used in up to six sites in the city, there are many membership cards probably already being shared among multiple users for one monthly direct debit so until that's sorted out I will cancel my membership and head elsewhere before I end up subsidising even more people. The council is aware this goes on and even has signs up in some centres politely asking people not to do this. And for reference the Freedom Leisure centres are now more expensive than some other leisure services ie the unis, schools and private gyms. Maxwell's Ghost
  • Score: 0

6:53am Fri 4 Jan 13

Old Ale Man says...

NickBrt wrote:
But the Greens have got to find the money to throw at Travellers from somewhere...
I think you mean their comforts, demands and that their fly tipped rubbish is taken to land fill for free and all the other unhealthy crap they deposit. After all they have a human right to be looked after in this way, they do (as they will tell you) pay taxes.However you are right NickBrt about trowing money at travelers and according to the Argus its an awful lot!!!!!
[quote][p][bold]NickBrt[/bold] wrote: But the Greens have got to find the money to throw at Travellers from somewhere...[/p][/quote]I think you mean their comforts, demands and that their fly tipped rubbish is taken to land fill for free and all the other unhealthy crap they deposit. After all they have a human right to be looked after in this way, they do (as they will tell you) pay taxes.However you are right NickBrt about trowing money at travelers and according to the Argus its an awful lot!!!!! Old Ale Man
  • Score: 0

10:30am Fri 4 Jan 13

HannahMR says...

This is why I will never again use a council partnership facility such as Freedom god only knows what they will do to the Saltdean Lido. myself and my children all attend a fantastic community leisure centre called the Deans on the outskirts of the city which actually supports it's community and it's users!
After all is that not what we should have learned from the marvellous Olympics, participation over profit margins.
This is why I will never again use a council partnership facility such as Freedom god only knows what they will do to the Saltdean Lido. myself and my children all attend a fantastic community leisure centre called the Deans on the outskirts of the city which actually supports it's community and it's users! After all is that not what we should have learned from the marvellous Olympics, participation over profit margins. HannahMR
  • Score: 0

10:31am Fri 4 Jan 13

HannahMR says...

This is why I will never again use a council partnership facility such as Freedom god only knows what they will do to the Saltdean Lido. myself and my children all attend a fantastic community leisure centre called the Deans on the outskirts of the city which actually supports it's community and it's users!
After all is that not what we should have learned from the marvellous Olympics, participation over profit margins.
This is why I will never again use a council partnership facility such as Freedom god only knows what they will do to the Saltdean Lido. myself and my children all attend a fantastic community leisure centre called the Deans on the outskirts of the city which actually supports it's community and it's users! After all is that not what we should have learned from the marvellous Olympics, participation over profit margins. HannahMR
  • Score: 0

2:41pm Fri 4 Jan 13

sussexram40 says...

I dont see why sports facilities should be immune from the real world. I dont play a lot of sports as Im too old now but I have other things I like to do and nobody subsidises my hobbies. If I cant afford it I dont do it. That's life my friends.
I dont see why sports facilities should be immune from the real world. I dont play a lot of sports as Im too old now but I have other things I like to do and nobody subsidises my hobbies. If I cant afford it I dont do it. That's life my friends. sussexram40
  • Score: 0

3:55pm Fri 4 Jan 13

Tring says...

Fight_Back wrote:
Tring wrote:
The bank bailout cost taxpayers £163,850,000,000. It screwed the public finances, and much of the need for it was down to greed and incompetence which has gone largely unpunished.

Which ought to be more of a cause for outrage than traveller sites. Horsedean was ok'd by the council when in conservative hands, I believe.
Good grief ...... no it didn't cost the taxpayer that much ..... that was the government offering the banks financial security and guarantees, it wasn't actually money going out.
No, the total figures for securities and guarantees are way higher than the figure I gave above. That was the figure as to what it has cost the taxpayer, estimated around a year ago (the most recent I could find).

Remember that the bank shares bought the government (or rather by us) have plummeted in value since.
All losses that have to be underwritten, and guess who picks up the bill?

Anyway, it was a general point. Travellers are not powerful people. Some people that ARE very powerful are being allowed to get away with grand larceny. That's not right.
[quote][p][bold]Fight_Back[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Tring[/bold] wrote: The bank bailout cost taxpayers £163,850,000,000. It screwed the public finances, and much of the need for it was down to greed and incompetence which has gone largely unpunished. Which ought to be more of a cause for outrage than traveller sites. Horsedean was ok'd by the council when in conservative hands, I believe.[/p][/quote]Good grief ...... no it didn't cost the taxpayer that much ..... that was the government offering the banks financial security and guarantees, it wasn't actually money going out.[/p][/quote]No, the total figures for securities and guarantees are way higher than the figure I gave above. That was the figure as to what it has cost the taxpayer, estimated around a year ago (the most recent I could find). Remember that the bank shares bought the government (or rather by us) have plummeted in value since. All losses that have to be underwritten, and guess who picks up the bill? Anyway, it was a general point. Travellers are not powerful people. Some people that ARE very powerful are being allowed to get away with grand larceny. That's not right. Tring
  • Score: 0

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