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Fears over swimming club's future

PUBLISHED: 11:19 14 June 2010 | UPDATED: 18:02 30 June 2010

Members of swimming groups in Norfolk say they are fearful for the future of their clubs if the amount they pay out to use school pools escalates under new proposals from the county council.

Members of swimming groups in Norfolk say they are fearful for the future of their clubs if the amount they pay out to use school pools escalates under new proposals from the county council.

Norfolk County Council is planning new charges for the use of school facilities including sports halls, school halls and swimming pools, that would see some costs doubling.

The subsidy for community groups, currently 25pc of the cost of hire, is also set be reduced to 15pc.

The new charging regime is due to be discussed by the council's cabinet and if agreed could be implemented in September.

Tracey Khalil, chair of the North Norfolk Vikings Swimming Club, said: “If this applies to our club then essentially we will have to reduce the training available to our members rather than pay more or double the fees they pay. This will result in the swimmers of north Norfolk being at a total disadvantage to those in the bigger cities.”

The club, which is coached by former GB swimmer Yasmin Holmes, currently hires two pools at Aylsham and Cromer High Schools for 14.5 hours between them per week.

Ms Khalil said: “You only need to do the sums and will see that basically we either double our fees or reduce our pool time.

“County swimming is going to be the hardest hit if this policy is implemented.”

Julie Andrews is treasurer of Great Yarmouth Swimming Club which uses the pool at Great Yarmouth High School for nine-and-a-half hours each week.

She said if the changes go ahead she estimates they will be paying an extra £8,000 a year.

She said: “It will be a nightmare for us and other clubs across the county, We were not aware the costs would double, we would expect some kind of increase, but certainly not this amount. Swimming clubs will have to fold or cut their sessions.”

A spokesman for the county council has said they are looking at a fair charging system for community groups who use schools outside of the school day, as it was an issue that had been raised by Norfolk's schools, who say they can no longer meet the costs of subsidising community groups.

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children's services, said they wanted to encourage community groups to use schools but they also needed to ensure that schools are not meeting the growing costs from their own budgets, which should be used for the education of their pupils.

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