Council price freezes

Muskets and cannon are fired at the Maritime Experience. to salute the Royal Wedding.
Muskets and cannon are fired at the Maritime Experience. to salute the Royal Wedding.

FEES and charges at a raft of popular leisure and community venues have been frozen by civic chiefs to give residents some respite.

Charges at the Town Hall Theatre and Borough Hall, in Hartlepool, have been frozen while current admission process have also been frozen at Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience for the next financial year.

Senior officers at Hartlepool Borough Council say they know how much pressure is being put on people as a result of the current economic crisis and say many charges for council facilities have reached a ceiling.

Therefore the majority of the 700 separate fees and charges within the community services department are being frozen and the focus will be put on staff at various venues to maximise income.

The fees and charges, which include Mill House Leisure Centre and the Headland and Brierton sites, was approved by independent councillor Cath Hill, portfolio holder for children’s and community services.

John Mennear, assistant director of community services, said each charge is looked at individually and he was “pleased” to say that many of the prices are frozen for 2013-14.

Where prices have increased it is in line with 2.5 per cent inflation and in a small number of cases there are above inflation increases.

Concessionary rates have also been frozen at leisure centres while club hire charges have also been frozen.

Prices have also been frozen for leisure centre fitness room use and standard fitness class charges.

Meanwhile, there will be no increase to hire the Grayfields 3G pitch or the community room at Mill House.

But there will be a rise for the junior leisure card membership and cricket net hire at the Headland and Brierton sports centre.

A report added: “Cricket net hire at the Headland and Brierton unfortunately has to involve the use of the whole hall unlike at Mill House Leisure Centre where being a six court hall, only a proportion is required, therefore the new price reflects the need to allocate the whole sports hall.”

A new charge is to introduced at Brierton Sports Centre for the Olympus Suite hire.

Coun Hill said: “I agree with what we are doing with the prices to try and keep them as low as we can and for most places there has been no change.”

A report by Mr Mennear said: “The annual review of prices has resulted in a range of pricing changes, the overriding factor being either a price freeze or increases in line with inflation only.

“The fees nevertheless are structured to allow for a wide range of concessions and beneficial pricing for those who take advantage of concessionary cards, active cards etc.”

It added that the charges will ensure that Hartlepool rates remain very competitive.

Mr Mennear said a series of new charges have been introduced for Tees Archaeology, which reflects the need for the service to become much more commercial as they are heavily reliant on external income.

The fees and charges do not include the commercial prices charged at the cafeterias and ticket prices at the theatre which are priced according to costs on an individual basis.