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Centre feels the heat as sauna users rage at cost

PUBLISHED: 10:39 24 September 2010

Central Park Leisure Centre

Central Park Leisure Centre

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ANGRY leisure centre users have slammed a health centre for charging them full gym membership to use the sauna.

Since April visitors to Central Park Leisure Centre in Gooshays Drive, Harold Hill have been charged £54 membership fee, plus £4.70 to use the sauna.

Cllr Denis O’ Flynn said: “In the long term this is just going to cost the centre because people are just going to stop going there and are going to be pushed out of the borough.

“As far as the average resident is concerned it is a complete rip off because for many people they only use the sauna once in a blue moon.”

Terry Smith from Collier was told that he had to pay £54 for the membership and £4.70 just to use the sauna at a one-off session just a few weeks’ ago.

Terry, 62 claims that he was told by staff at the centre he should use the centres in Redbridge and Barkingside where he would just have to pay for individual sessions without having to fork out the hefty costs.

Terry said: “I think it is an injustice because they have gone ahead and changed the prices without consulting anyone or at least telling members of the public.

“It has definitely pushed me away from using the leisure centres and it would have done the same thing to other people.”

The charges are thought to have been introduced in April after problems with some users vandalising the saunas and the staff argued that could put a stop to the vandalism by pushing prices up.

But the users argue that the price is unfair and are calling for them to now be scrapped.

Cllr O’ Flynn said: “I think they are just penalising people for a small minority of people who have taken it upon themselves to vandalise the leisure centre.

“Its unfair because they need to look at the staffing issues because it is up to them to stop the vandalism, the public should not be left to foot the bill.”

Councillor Andrew Curtin, Cabinet Member for Towns and Communities, with special responsibility for Culture, said: “Following recent problems of vandalism to the sauna, Sports and Leisure Management Ltd (SLM), which manages the centre on our behalf, decided to restrict its use to members only.

“We are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

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