ORANGE City Council is double dipping by charging swimming club members admission fees and lane hire, according to City of Orange Swimming Club head coach John Davies.
Mr Davies said parents had to fork out an average of $550 a year for their child to stay in the sport when a $288 12-month season ticket to the pool, swimming NSW club fees, local club fees and lane hire are taken into account.
“All I’m asking is for a fair go for the Orange club that’s been and always will be the main user of the aquatic centre, and provide professional training sessions so kids can achieve their goals and dreams,” he said.
“Swimming for the average family is far too expensive ... I’m providing my coaching for free [but] put those fees on top and its becoming a sport for the wealthy.”
Mr Davies said he did not believe giving swimmers free access to the pool for a few months was a good idea because it would set a precedent.
“Reducing the fees and making it more affordable for the swimming club to provide swimming activities is the way to go,” he said.
Each year the club contributes about $12,500 in lane hire and $28,500 in season passes, Mr Davies said.
The council currently charges $6 per hour for lane hire after scrapping a proposal to set a $12 fee.
“It might not sound like much but when you’re there for four and half hours a day and you’ve got eight or nine sessions a week it adds up,” Mr Davies said.
“The club divvies it up and passes it on to swimmers, which is an extra cost for parents.”
Council spokesman Nick Redmond said, on average, children were only paying 50 cents per session towards lane hire because of the high numbers of swimmers using each lane.
“Lane hire at other centres like Blayney is $10.50 and Bathurst is $12.90 and both these centres have entry fees on top,” he said.
“We want to make it as good a value as possible.”
Mr Redmond said $12 was the real cost of delivering lane hire to the clubs, but the outgoing council chose to lower the fee to $6 and impose the full $12 over time.
Mr Davies said unlike school groups the club id not benefit from the 10 per cent discount on entry fees.
But Mr Redmond said the club members could already take advantage of a discount through season passes, which reduced a child’s entry fee to $1.80 per swim if they attended the pool 150 times a year.
The club’s president Mitchell Staniforth said Mr Davies’ comments were not endorsed by the club.
“We’re quite grateful to council that the lane hire fees have been reduced from $12 to $6,” he said.