A BALLYMONEY mum has called on the local Council to rethink what she calls the “horrendous” pricing system at the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre.
However, JDLC bosses have countered this claim saying the Garryduff Road facility represents “great value for money” at under £1 per day for unlimited use of the gym, health suite and swimming pool.
Mother-of-one Allison Shuter says that she was appalled at the price of membership of the local leisure facility especially given the recent publicity over Ballymoney’s disease heart statistics.
Speaking to the Times, full-time student Allison said: “I learned to swim in the Riada Centre and have such fond memories of using the centre that it was a real shock to me when I returned home to live here with my daughter to find that it is so expensive.
“I have just moved from Belfast where I could buy a month’s full membership of a leisure centre for £18 but when I looked into joining the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre, I discovered that it would cost me £29.50 per month PLUS having to pay extra for classes.
“Some people, like me, really only like using the swimming pool and there is not tailored package for this.
“Those prices are horrendous especially for families as Ballymoney Council offers no concessions for family groups, unemployed people, couples. students.
“Leisure centres in Belfast offer ‘boost packages’ where, for example, unemployed people can get £10 or £15 membership to use any Council leisure centre in the city.”
Allison said she was surprised when she moved back to Ballymoney at how many small independent gyms were operating in the town.
“Now I realise why,” she said. “People obviously think that the Council leisure centre prices are too expensive.
“The operation seems to be money-orientated rather than people-orientated. And that is very worrying especially when the recent survey highlighted the poor heart health of people in Ballymoney.”
One month’s full gym membership at the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre costs £29.50 and includes unlimited use of the gym, swimming pool, fitness studio and health suite.
Those holding gym membership do have to pay extra for other classes on offer.
JDLC also offers a pay-as-you-go scheme for gym use which is priced at £6/£8 and £10 per session depending on peak usage times.
In neighbouring Coleraine Borough Council, a month’s full gym membership at Coleraine Leisure Centre - including gym usage, health suite and pool - costs £47 per month. That price falls to £36 per month if a six month membership of £216 is taken out. This also entitles the member to use the facilities at another Council-owned leisure centre in Garvagh.
Paul Lyness, Head of Leisure Services at Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre said: “We believe Joey Dunlop health and fitness Club membership offers great value for money at under £1 per day for unlimited use of the gym, health suite and swimming pool. We further believe one could not find better in Belfast or elsewhere.
“The Joey Dunlop health and fitness club is the only health club in our Borough that offers swimming and 5* health suite facilities as part of its membership package.
“There has not been an increase in health and fitness club membership charges since September 2007. During this six year intervening period utility charges (gas, heating oil, water rates and electricity) have rocketed.
“We are pleased to report that health and fitness club membership is buoyant and that our highly trained fitness instructors are offering more and more health related schemes. These physical activity schemes allow patients to take part in controlled and supervised physical activity sessions that have been approved by the medical profession and operated by Council staff.
“The council is currently reviewing its GP referral scheme with the Northern Partnership of Physical Activity (NPPA) and will be working with the Northern Health Trust to provide classes in GP Referral, Cardiac rehab, Pulmonary rehab. Furthermore council officers are in discussion with NPPA to provide additional services around childhood obesity and weight management.
“As a council we don’t feel it is appropriate to comment on charges by other councils for their leisure facilities. However under the Local Government Reform programme Council officers are meeting from Leisure Departments from Ballymoney, Coleraine, Limavady and Moyle to discuss leisure provision for the new council which will include reviewing opening times and charges.
“Ballymoney Borough Council supports and encourages all types of physical activity. Physical activity can be achieved by walking, cycling, swimming, running, joining a sports club or taking part in activity sessions at Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre which includes a walking club that meets Wednesday mornings - cost £1, Active Aging Club (50+) Tuesday 10am-12 noon and Thursday 12 noon -2pm - cost £3.00 per session includes a cup of tea/coffee, plus evening aerobic classes at a cost of £3.
“For the youth our Sports Development Team provide a host of coaching schemes throughout the year that are priced at £3 per session or £25 for 10 sessions.
“In the summer the council runs a four week summer scheme at a cost of £35 per week that runs from Monday – Friday 10am-3pm and includes lunch.
“Further information lwww.ballymoney.gov.uk”