Belfast City Council cannot stop ‘shocking’ leisure centre price rises

Belfast council has been told it cannot stop “shocking” price rises in its own leisure centres due to the nature of its contract with the company that runs them.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 4th December 2021, 6:58 am
Updated Saturday, 4th December 2021, 7:00 am

At this month’s meeting councillors agreed not to sign off price hikes of an average three per cent put forward for next year by GLL, the company hired to manage leisure services across the city.

Greenwich Leisure Ltd, operating under the brand ‘Better’, is a ‘social enterprise’ organisation which runs over 250 sport and leisure facilities and libraries for councils across the UK.

All parties agreed to return the proposal to committee level, despite being told by the city solicitor nothing could be done.

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Councillors also agreed to ask GLL for a price freeze on leisure services next year.

People Before Profit Councillor Matt Collins told the council chamber he thought the price increase was “unfair and unjust”.

He added: “Over the last number of years I have heard constant complaints from service users and constituents about the increasingly unfair rates, the cost of swimming, of pitches, and of other leisure services.

“Here we have a proposal where GLL are attempting to implement an increase of on average three per cent across leisure services next year. If you look at the breakdown of the price index, some of the figures in it are quite shocking.

“You are talking from £56 to £60 for a membership at Olympia – I think that is quite outrageous. We should go back and request to management that GLL don’t go forward with this price increase and instead freeze prices for the year ahead.”

The city solicitor John Walsh said: “This is an arm’s length legal arrangement, so legal control of this rests with GLL.”

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