Elderly hit by pool price hike
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.
Dampened enthusiasm: Victor Lonsdale is upset higher entry prices at the Onehunga War Memorial Pool.