Two Leighton-Linslade swimming clubs have spoken out as angry parents protest a 30 per cent rise in children’s lessons at Lifestyles@Tiddenfoot.
Last week, upset parents received an email from Stevenage Leisure Limited to inform them that their monthly direct debit payments would be increasing from April 1, with a 30 minute group swimming lesson for one child due to increase from £22.50 (per month) to £29.60.
Several frustrated families contacted the LBO to express their concerns, which included fears that many children would no longer be able to learn an “essential life skill”, while a petition was started by mum Claire Shipp, which currently stands at 730 signatures.
Parents also claimed that the rise in prices was unfair because Linslade Crusaders Swimming Club and Leighton Buzzard Swimming Club had their Level 5 and under lessons taken over by Central Bedfordshire Council and SLL this year.
One parent claimed: “The council and SLL have a monopoly over Leighton-Linslade - this is just greed”.
The LBO contacted both swimming clubs to hear their views on the situation.
A Linslade Crusaders spokesman said: “Since September when CBC/SLL served us notice that they would be stopping our ability to run Learn to Swim we have tried every avenue possible to overturn their decision and have been in constant communication with them on this matter.
“Prior to Christmas at a meeting at the council offices we were informed that there was no opportunity for this being overturned and that we should concentrate our efforts on working with the leisure provider to ensure the future of the club. Since then we have been meeting to understand how we can work closer with SLL and try to ensure there is still a route from Learn to Swim into the club to allow us to continue to develop their swimming skills and move them into competitive swimming.
“We have, and continue to explore any opportunity to continue to offer LTS. However, the lack of swimming pools in the areas makes it impossible without moving out of the county which then puts inconvenience to parents and coaches time and makes it impractical.
“We have now informed any affected swimmers that if they want to continue swimming they will need to make contact with SLL to agree session times available. We have also made it clear that once they have progressed to stage 5 they are more than welcome back into our club.
“Whilst we are committed to working together with the operator for the benefit of all we will always maintain that the previous set up of our LTS programme offered parents more choice in convenience and cost.
“We are disappointed about the recently announced price increases but we were always aware that this was likely and without the swimming clubs Learn to Swim programmes it offers parents very little option.
“Since the increases were made public we have had numerous enquiries about our lessons and coaching but unless the children are at level 5 or above we have not been able to accommodate them.
“We will continue to work with the operator and try to support the objective of developing swimmers from their LTS programmes through to our competitive squads.”
A Leighton Buzzard Swimming Club spokeswoman, said: “LBSC heard about the planned increased costs of the Learn to Swim provision at Tiddenfoot earlier this week via parents enquiring to join our Club.
“Not surprisingly we have also now seen the views and comments on Social Media.
“At the end of last year LBSC found a workable compromise with CBC and SLL for our Swim School that we believe was in the best interest for the long term future of our Club and the swimmers it affected. Consequently the transition was implemented at the beginning of 2019 which we believe went smoothly.
“The future plan for further fee increases was not part of any of the discussions or negotiations we had. Our hope and expectation is that the members who transferred will look to rejoin our Club as soon as they hit the right level, that being level 5 and above, the agreed level we can recruit swimmers to our Club.
“Consequently, we are now in the process of expanding our Learn To Train provision for swimmers who have reached Level 5 or above.
“At Leighton Buzzard Swimming Club we try and keep our fees at as low as possible whilst ensuring we cover our costs.
“We are able to have lower fees because the Club is primarily run by parent volunteers (like most sporting clubs) who are passionate about swimming, some of whom swam for LBSC or other Clubs in years gone by, as well our committed and talented Coaching Team, led by Head Coach Graeme Bell and Senior Coach Elsa Crick.
“Our coaching team is a mix of highly qualified coaches and swim teachers, past swimmers and senior swimmers that care about encouraging and developing the next generation of swimmers.
“We at LBSC agree that swimming is a life skill that all children should have access to and will certainly help where we can.
“We would encourage local Families to consider joining our Club as soon as they are at the right level and give competitive swimming a go. We are particularly looking for swimmers at level 5 or above born between January 2010 and December 2011 but all age groups are welcome to get in touch.
“Any swimmers, previous members or potential new members, who are interested in being part of our friendly Club that has been around for nearly 100 years and like the idea of giving competitive swimming a go are welcome to get in touch and arrange a trial by emailing email@example.com.”
To read our previous article about the parents’ petition and SLL price increases, visit: https://www.leightonbuzzardonline.co.uk/news/leighton-linslade-parents-protest-unfair-30-per-cent-price-hike-for-swimming-lessons-at-tiddenfoot-1-8857421
To read December’s article about the swimming clubs’ loss of their Level 5 and under lessons, visit: https://www.leightonbuzzardonline.co.uk/news/stop-takeover-of-linslade-swimming-lessons-don-t-break-up-our-club-family-1-8736655