Cornish swimming clubs say they could be forced to close after revealing they are facing an almost 80% increase in pool hire costs.
A number of swimming clubs across the county have been contacting Cornwall councilllors for help after finding that the cost of hiring lanes in council-owned pools is set to rocket over the next two years.
GLL, the charity which runs Cornwall’s leisure centres under a contract with Cornwall Council, said it was increasing charges to keep them in line with “market prices”.
GLL is planning the first price hike in September when a lane will cost £13.50 an hour with plans to go to £16.50 in 2020 and £18.50 in 2021. Swimming clubs say the plans to increase lane hire costs could put them out of business.
Concerns about the price hike were raised at an all-member briefing at Cornwall Council on Friday when councillors were able to quiz GLL bosses, who said prices were going up and would be “more than the market position” when they increase in September.
Tim Webb, head of facilities in Cornwall for GLL, said: “We are currently subsidising the contract quite heavily as an organisation”
He added: “It is not in our interests to put swimming clubs out of business. We have tried to support them but we need to get it closer to the going rate to what clubs pay across the country.”
However, councillors highlighted that for some areas in Cornwall the GLL pool is the only option they have.
Amanda Pennington, who is involved in North Cornwall Dragons who use the Dragon Centre in Bodmin (pictured) and has a daughter who swims competitively, said: "They (GLL) are from London and don’t understand if they put the prices up so much clubs will not be able to afford it.
"There is nowhere else we can go, we are constrained by our geography in Cornwall. It is not London or Hampshire where you can just go to a different leisure centre."