Sheffield sports centre users face 25 per cent price hike

Jean Holroyd, reception manager at Hillsborough Leisure Centre issuing the first card to customer Karen Wake.
Jean Holroyd, reception manager at Hillsborough Leisure Centre issuing the first card to customer Karen Wake.
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THOUSANDS of public sports centre customers in Sheffield face paying up to 25 per cent more for activities from next month.

Sheffield International Venues (SIV), which runs Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, iceSheffield, Graves Tennis and Leisure Centre, Concord Sports Centre and Hillsborough Leisure Centre, will raise prices for casual users from December 5.

But SIV is introducing a scheme that it says will offset much of the hike for regulars who sign up and buy a new card.

Many families and individuals will have to pay more if they are not one of the 15,000 Fitness Unlimited members or carrying the new lifeCARD, being introduced in one of the biggest changes to entertainment, sport and health and fitness in the city for more than 20 years.

An adult not in one of those schemes seeking a peak time swim would face paying more than £6 when the new fees come in. SIV says the new card, which will cost adults £3 before December 31 rising to £5, will offer discounts on many activities across the company’s 19 leisure and entertainment facilities.

Holders of a lifeCARD will receive a 20 per cent discount and in the majority of cases customers will end up paying less than they do currently, says the company which will also be able to better monitor use of its facilities.

SIV chief executive Steve Brailey said: “In these challenging times, the introduction of the lifeCARD is designed to protect our customers from the price increases. It is not about charging more, but offering more, following suit from other successful schemes across the UK and facing the reality of the economic climate.

“The new lifeCARD will enable us to collect more information about our customers and offer a greater range of programmes and activities to suit the whole of Sheffield.

“It will give us information that will help us to develop and to continue to invest in the facilities we provide. This is an exciting opportunity for our customers to make real savings, receive great offers and make a major contribution to the improvement of our products and services.”

The scheme has already had the thumbs up from customers following a trial at Hillsborough Leisure Centre.

Karen Wake, the first customer to be issued with a lifeCARD, said: “I think the lifeCARD is a really positive scheme. I visit Hillsborough regularly for Smartbeat sessions so I am looking forward to finding out about other events, activities and promotional offers.”

But engineering worker Chris Raynor, 25, who travels from Langold, Worksop, to swim with his two-year-old daughter Scarlett at Ponds Forge, said: “It’s a good pool and we tend to come most weeks, but now it’s going up just like everything else.

“It’s quite a big jump. At the moment Scarlett doesn’t have to pay but next year she will.”

The card will be introduced on Monday, December 5. They can be bought from venue receptions or online at the introductory rate of £3 from today. After December 31 the cost will be £5 for an adult and £3 for a junior.

- For more information about the lifeCARD visit www.sheffieldlifecard.co.uk.