THE cost of swimming in Sandwell will rise next year – despite the council shutting three pools.

Sandwell Leisure Trust, which runs eight leisure centres across the borough on behalf of Sandwell Council, has revealed it plans to up the cost of accessing its gyms and swimming pools from January 1.

The rates for swimming in Sandwell would rise across the board with the price per adult increasing by six per cent from £4.95 to £5.25 and eight per cent for under 17s from £3 to £3.25.

Gym sessions would remain at £8 per visit but the cost of fitness classes would increase from £6.60 to £7 for adults and from £3.30 to £3.50 for concessions. 

The rise in the cost of swimming comes as two pools across Sandwell – Smethwick and Langley – shut their doors this year and a damaged pool at Haden Hill Leisure Centre in Cradley Heath remains closed nine months after its roof collapsed.

Sandwell was awarded £20 million to rebuild Haden Hill Leisure Centre – with work expected to start next year.

The “substantial” repairs needed to make the crumbling leisure centre safe were deemed too expensive by Sandwell Council.  The £73m Sandwell Aquatics Centre opened to the public in July this year.

Income from gym and swimming fees has increased by 15 per cent since April, according to Sandwell Council.  The proposed price rises were “very reasonable” according to the council’s ‘safer neighbourhoods and active communities scrutiny board’ which met in Oldbury on Monday (December 18).

The biggest increase proposed by Sandwell Leisure Trust would see the price for under 17s wanting to swim, even with a concessionary pass, rising by a third to £2.

Sandwell Leisure Trust offers ‘concessionary leisure passes’ – which come with discounts of up to 50 per cent for swimming, fitness classes and the use of the gym – and are available to full-time students, over 60s and those on low incomes and benefits.  But while the passes are aimed at concessionary and disadvantaged groups, individual passes still cost £12.50 and family passes are priced at £20 – plus a £10 admin fee if not applied for online.

Concessionary pass rates for adult swimming will also rise – this time by ten per cent to £2.75.

A parent and toddler swim will rise by 14 per cent from £5.70 to £6.50.

The fee for family passes offering unlimited access – for up to two adults and two children as Sandwell residents – would stay put at £65 per month. Individual unlimited memberships would also be frozen at £33 per month.

Gym or swim-only memberships would rise by £2 to £23.