A THRIVING local sporting club is preparing itself for a significant increase in costs when the new Fermanagh and Omagh District Council comes into power on April 1.
The Enniskillen Lakelanders Swimming Club, faces hefty increases in costs from April, with the Herald reporting last week new council figures which state lane use at the Lakeland Forum will go up by a colossal 79% from £.8.40 per hour to £15, with the price for the club using the entire pool for an hour increasing from £85 to £100, an 18% hike.
The cost of hosting a swimming gala for the club will also go up by a third from £150 to £200.
Chairman of the Lakelanders Michael O’Kane told the Herald he expected an increase, but hoped it would be a ‘fair’ increase.
“No one likes to see price increases, especially when the service on offer remains the same.
The Enniskillen Lakeland Forum swimming and changing facilities haven’t been improved over the past few years so it is hard to justify the types of price increases being quoted. Whether they will be realised or not.
“The Lakelanders swimming club has achieved huge success in recent years and continues to go from strength to strength.
I think that councillors need to take into account the health and well being benefits to the community that sports clubs like the Lakelanders can provide.
“I would consider it was a fair price we were getting. I feel that if prices are going to be standardised then facilities should be standardised.”
Mr O’Kane highlighted the disparity in services provided in Enniskillen in Omagh and stressed that while prices may need to be ‘harmonised’, it must be ‘fair’.
“You only have to visit Omagh’s new swimming pool facilities to realise the difference between what Omagh has and what Enniskillen has.
That’s not to say what Enniskillen has isn’t suitable for our requirements, we would of course like to upgrade certain elements of it, but we don’t feel that harmonising the prices is the answer, we feel they should harmonise the quality of service also.”
At present the Lakelanders club has over 100 members aged seven upwards and has a Masters section. Such is the demand they are now running at full capacity. If the proposed increases do come to pass then membership fees may have to rise, putting their existing numbers under threat.
“We just don’t want to see our membership being forced down due to high percentage increases in pool fees , which we will inevitably have to pass on to the members.”
At this month’s meeting of the General Purpose Committee Robert Gibson, Director of Community, Health and Leisure explained that many of the cost increases have been implemented to ‘harmonise’ prices within Omagh and Fermanagh and stated that some swimming charges in the Lakeland Forum were ‘historically low’.
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