PENSIONERS are having to splash out significantly more to swim at Helensburgh Swimming Pool – while family membership charges are reduced.

Live Argyll, the charitable trust which operates leisure centres formerly run by Argyll and Bute Council, has recently implemented a change in its pricing policy, which led to more than 90 per cent of users gaining a discount on membership costs.

But as part of a review of its pricing structure, the rate of £12.40 per month for concessions – and slightly less for those who paid an annual fee in advance – was deemed unsustainable and has been scrapped.

Pensioners now have to pay the full adult rate of £16.99 per month – a price hike of 37 per cent – with no discount for paying an annual fee up front.

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Helensburgh resident Joan Scullion said: “There are now no concessions for pensioners or discounts for annual membership. However, family membership charges have been reduced by approximately 18 per cent.

“Is it now Argyll and Bute’s policy via their Live Argyll subsidiary to target pensioners to subsidise families? Are they creating division in our community by instigating a have and have not society?

“The Live Argyll leaflet reads that they are 100 per cent charity – so where is our council tax being spent on if we are relying on a charity based organisation to fund and run our leisure facilities?

“Senior citizens not only use the facilities or recreational purposes but also for health reasons.

“Although I am no expert,  I’m certain that if you asked any health professional in Argyll and Bute whether elderly people benefit from this they would confirm that this also has a knock-on effect to reduce the stress on the Scottish NHS.

“[This is] yet another massive increase in charges for our facilities that can only have a negative effect on the health and wellbeing of our ageing population. ”

An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson said: “We carried out a price review of our leisure membership prices, with a view to introducing a low cost model for access to all services.

“This has resulted in more than 90 per cent of our users getting a reduction in membership costs, as well as wider access to facilities.

“Unfortunately, the £12.40 swim concession price and associated prepaid price was deemed unsustainable in the longer term as it required significant subsidy.”

Live Argyll took over the operation of the council’s leisure and library services in October 2017, following a vote by councillors the previous year.

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The organisation’s status as a charitable trust means it is able to utilise financial benefits, and access grant funding, not open to local authorities.

Click here to access a petition calling on the organisation to revoke the price changes.