Prices for entry to leisure centres in Shetland are to rise by around six per cent from April next year after the move was sanctioned by Shetland Recreational Trust at a meeting today.
Trust general manager James Johnston said the rises were broadly in line with a policy of keeping admission charges close to the Scottish average. Some charges are going up by more than six per cent, most significantly the price of a single badminton court which is rising by 12 per cent, from £6.70 an hour to £7.50 an hour.
Mr Johnston noted there had been criticism in the past, particularly from the swimming association, that the SRT was not charging enough for dry side activities. He believes the price being charged still offers “good value for money”, and he pointed out that the hourly rate for a badminton court was not much greater, per person, than the £3.40 it costs to take a swim at the Clickimin pool.
Meanwhile, trustees at the meeting in the Bowlers’ Bar at Clickimin agreed that Baltasound’s leisure centre and the swimming pool in Scalloway should remain open for three days during the trust’s festive shutdown this year.
The move comes after criticism last year from the Unst community and swimmers, who last December submitted an unsuccessful 191-signature petition asking the trust to reconsider closing all centres for a fortnight.
The Baltasound centre traditionally hosts tournaments in a number of sports between Christmas and New Year, while swimmers were upset at not being able to train to keep themselves in condition ahead of national championships in early January.
Baltasound Leisure Centre was closed for a few days in October to save money and is to be open for five hours a day between Monday 27th and Wednesday 29th December.
The pool at Scalloway will be open to the public for three hours a day from Tuesday 28th to Thursday 30th December. Shetland Swimming Association is to be given access to the pool for agreed times outside of those hours.
The meeting also heard that the trust’s accounts have been given a clean bill of health by auditors KPMG, prompting trustee John Nicolson to congratulate employees for their “wonderful” achievement in saving money amid such fraught economic conditions. He jested that perhaps some staff could offer their services to Shetland Islands Council as it seeks to save money.
Last year the trust had a deficit of £38,120, which had been turned into a surplus of £56,162 by the end of 2009/10. That was after main funding body Shetland Charitable Trust, which gives it £3.5 million towards running costs every year, asked the SRT to find £300,000 in efficiency savings.
Receiving £400,000 from the SIC to reflect the cost of its educational use of SRT premises was a significant factor in keeping the books in good shape. Income at all eight leisure centres around the isles were up substantially as a result.
However, the council has stated it will not be able to afford such a large sum again this year and discussions to resolve that impasse are continuing. Mr Johnston said he hoped the talks would conclude “shortly”.