Friday, 21 January 2011

Only a council could consider putting up leisure centre prices during economic downturn to be a good thing

Cornwall Council has just put up its leisure centre costs at a time when local residents are suffering from the economic downturn and despite a shortfall of around £290,000 in their expected income this year.

I, and my fellow Liberal Democrat councillors, have condemned this decision which is likely to see even fewer people using Cornwall's leisure facilities over the coming year.

As my colleague Nathan Bale put it:

"There isn't a business in the country that sees an economic downturn as a good time to raise prices"

Put simply, if people do not have money in their pockets then they will concentrate on putting food on the table and paying heating bills. Optional spending, like leisure centres, will be the first to be hit. So in order to keep people coming through the doors, the Council should be lowering, not raising, its prices. The shortfall in income (as with parking) just goes to prove that prices are already too high for the current market.

The Council's excuse for the shortfall is that the bad weather hit customer numbers. They point out that they had to close two leisure centres for a couple of days. It's certainly true that the recent ice and snow may have put people off. But the shortfall is around 6% of the entire year's predicted income and so cannot be explained by even a full week of every leisure centre being closed, particularly in December which is a quiet month.

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