El­derly hit by pool price hike

Central Leader - - News - By Janie Smith

A PRICE hike at the One­hunga War Me­mo­rial Pool has damp­ened pen­sioner Vic­tor Lons­dale’s en­thu­si­asm for swim­ming.

The Auck­land City Coun­cil, which sets the max­i­mum en­try price a pool can charge, brought in the higher prices last Oc­to­ber.

At the One­hunga pool, the charge for se­niors went from $2 to $4.

Mr Lons­dale, 80, be­gan writ­ing to the coun­cil in Novem­ber last year, ask­ing for the price to be put back to $2.

“My main con­cern is the lack of in­ter­est shown by the coun­cil and coun­cil­lors.”

He started go­ing to the pool four years ago as part of his fit­ness regime af­ter ma­jor heart surgery.

Mr Lons­dale swims two or three times a week af­ter a morn­ing walk around Corn­wall Park.

“It’s won­der­ful. I meet nice peo­ple and it gets rid of a few aches and pains.”

Since the price rise he has seen a drop-off in the num­ber of el­derly peo­ple swim­ming.

“A lot of el­derly ladies used to come and I don’t see them now. I think the price has fright­ened them off.”

He says su­per­an­nu­a­tion for one per­son is $277 a week.

“Peo­ple say an­other $2 is noth­ing, but when you’re com­ing three times a week, that’s $12 gone.

“Two dol­lars to the el­derly is a loaf of bread.”

Mr Lons­dale says pools are a com­mu­nity fa­cil­ity like li­braries and should be free for peo­ple to use.

Al­though the in­crease won’t stop him swim­ming, he is wor­ried about oth­ers who can’t af­ford to pay ex­tra.

“I can af­ford to come but it’s still an ex­tra bur­den.”

Re­cre­ation ser­vices man- ager Jane Stone says es­ca­lat­ing op­er­at­ing costs forced the coun­cil to ap­prove the rise in pool en­try prices.

Prices were last put up in 1997 and since then the cost of op­er­at­ing pools has gone up by more than 25 per­cent be­cause of ris­ing wa­ter, chem­i­cal, en­ergy and staffing costs, she says.

The coun­cil had in­creased fund­ing to the pools but a small price in­crease had be­come nec­es­sary.

“The coun­cil pro­vides more than $1.1 mil­lion in sub­si­dies to op­er­ate swim­ming pools.”

Ms Stone says the pre­vi­ous One­hunga pool op­er­a­tors charged less than the coun­cil’s sug­gested max­i­mum but with ris­ing costs they adopted the in­crease.

The One­hunga pool man­ager re­ferred the Cen­tral Leader to the coun­cil for com­ment.

Arts, cul­ture and re­cre­ation com­mit­tee chair­man Greg Moyle says he sym­pa­thises with the el­derly and has made in­quiries about whether they could be charged less.

Tell us what you think. Should pub­lic swim­ming pools be cheaper or even free? Email cllet­ters@snl. co.nz.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Damp­ened en­thu­si­asm: Vic­tor Lons­dale is up­set higher en­try prices at the One­hunga War Me­mo­rial Pool.

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