Gosling price hikes may end young gymnasts' dreams, says Welwyn Garden City mum
PUBLISHED: 16:38 15 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:43 15 March 2019
Talented young gymnasts at Gosling Sports Park may not be able to continue training after a steep price increase from GLL, according to a worried Welwyn Garden City mum.
Parents whose kids train at Gosling Sports Park were shocked to receive letters announcing fee hikes of up to 66 per cent - despite being moved to a smaller room.
Amanda Pedley’s daughter is part of the Better Junior Development Squad, which was moved at the beginning of March from a large hall at the old sports building to a room behind the new trampoline park.
Despite there being much less equipment available, on April 1 her fees will go up from £45 a month to £75.
Other parents have reported a fee increase from £60 to £90 a month for their kids, phrased as a “small increase” in the letter from GLL.
“The kids came skipping out of club with a letter in their hands and they were like, here you go mum,” said Amanda, who read the letter in disbelief along with other parents.
“They’re forcing the prices up so high that many kids couldn’t afford to do it,” she said.
“Who can afford £30 extra per kid?
“Everyone’s just really hurt.
“They just feel neglected.”
The new room doesn’t have the correct flooring or the asymmetric bars needed to train competitively, so the team already has to try and book into other, oversubscribed facilities when they are training for a competition.
In addition, the noise from the trampoline park next door has been so loud at times that the children can’t hear their trainer, said Amanda.
“The teams are slowly being forced out,” said Amanda. “Everywhere else has got a three-year waiting list.”
She also has had difficulties getting her direct debit payments through, echoing a concern that was first raised when GLL announced it would close the main sports hall due to financial difficulty.
In the ensuing community protest, many pointed out that the leisure provider was not taking payments efficiently.
READ MORE: Gosling campaigners quiz GLL managers at public meeting
In response to Amanda’s complaint about the new prices, a spokesperson for GLL pointed out that historically, Gosling’s prices have been considerably lower than those paid in the rest of the county.
“I understand that a lot of clubs charge that, but if you go to Stevenage it’s a properly built gym,” said Amanda.
“They’ve got equipment.
“I’m willing to pay that amount if my daughter was getting the equipment and the standard that they’re saying they are.”
GLL argues that the price hikes are necessary to bring the facility up to standard, but the provider has not responded to a question about why the increase is being applied before the improvements are made.
Asymmetric bars are promised “soon”, according to the spokesperson.
They will “be in touch” about further additions.
“Our increases from April 1 reflect our desire to provide a well-resourced service that is able to re-invest in staff and facilities to provide the quality of experience our customers expect,” they added.
“Improvements to outdoor tennis and the new trampoline park are examples of us broadening the appeal of the Gosling Sports Park.
“We are here for the long term, with a mission to ensure the people of Welwyn [sic] and further afield get more active, more often – whatever their favourite activity,” said the spokesperson.
The spokesperson said that they are happy to meet and discuss concerns.
However, they claimed that with 200 current members of the gymnastic programme, “the numbers speak for themselves”.
“With further phased investment, the best is yet to come,” said the spokesperson.
However, Amanda says many parents are not sure if their kids will be able to continue in the team, which competes regularly and wins numerous medals.
The young gymnasts train three times a week on their membership and are looking forward to a competition in Milton Keynes.
“One kid said, ‘I don’t want to leave my family, I love my gymnastics family’,” reported Amanda.
“It’s their family, it really is.”