A pay as you go gym use facility has been axed at Carrick leisure centre in a council move to bring prices into line with each other across the borough.
The local authority pointed to the need to “ensure consistency” after complaints from users over the change.
A pensioner and Amphitheatre customer contacted the Carrick Times to voice his anger. He said: “The council have stopped the £17.50 ten gym sessions without any consultation. I am a pensioner and the pay as you go system of ten sessions was very attractive to me.
“I was a member but as I got older I did not use the gym facilities on a regular basis as my health could not withstand regular visits and once a week suited my circumstances as advised by my GP.
“I talked to other gym users who said this essentially ‘pay as you go system’ suited their lifestyle as they could only use the gym once a week for their personal circumstances. I and other gym users are to say the least very annoyed that the council decision appears to affect the elderly and low paid directly.”
In response, a Mid and East Antrim Council spokesperson pointed out that over 65s, those in receipt of Universal Credit and Carers’ Allowance can enjoy free off peak access to any council leisure facilities across the borough. The free of charge access is for swimming and health suite (sauna, steam and jacuzzi), gym is not included.
The spokesperson added: “Council recently brought all its leisure costs into line with each other to ensure consistency for ratepayers of Mid and East Antrim. We’ve cut monthly membership from £32 to £25 for full paying adults and from £22.40 to £17.50 for concessions. We’ve also introduced a swim only membership at £19 per month. Pay as you go concession prices are among the cheapest in NI costing only £3.90.”
Further to the council update, the pensioner has asked DUP Cllr Cheryl Johnston, who has taken up the matter on his behalf, to lobby for the return of the 10-session casual user option.
He concluded: “Carrickfergus ratepayers have lost a concession in order to bring MEA fees into line. I do not think this is fair.”