Derry City and Strabane District Council has defended its pricing for the Brooke Park 3G synthetic pitches after a local football academy complained they were unfair.
Paul Roddy, from Newell Academy, contacted the ‘Journal’, to claim that while the football club would like to train its members in Brooke Park four nights per week this was no longer affordable for many parents.
Mr. Roddy said that because the club trains after 6pm and bookings cost £18.50, compared with the £11.25 per hour youth rate before six, his club’s members are being priced out.
“Parents are having to choose how many times a week they can send their child to our club Newell Academy,” he said.
“Our club ethos is that we must make training accessible cost-wise to our members. We presently charge our players £2 per session but it just isn’t covering the overall cost of the facilitate hire which on a Monday for instance is £115,” he added.
He said: “Our own opinion as a voluntary sports club is that the council seem to be running the public’s facilities on some kind of business model, which is fine if your post code fits but our particular group operates from a neighbourhood renewal area and council engages monthly with the groups in those areas on various topics, which include youth provision programmes, which tackle anti-social behaviour , child obesity among others, but in our case it seems to be a case of pay up or get out. It just isn’t fair.”
A spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council said Council reviews its leisure and sports services pricing policy on an annual basis in consultation with the Councils Leisure and Sports Services Working Group, which is made up of nominated elected members and Council officers.
“In addition to a previous 12 week Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) Consultation which was commissioned in parallel with the introduction of the new pricing policy in April 2015, customer feedback in relation to pricing is continuously taken into consideration as part of the annual pricing policy review process. Feedback specific to Brooke Parks 3G pitch pricing is being considered for the 2017/18 pricing review which will commence from April 2017,” the spokesperson said.
They added: “Council is committed to applying consistent pricing structures across all its leisure facilities within the Derry City and Strabane District Council area. A specific rate was set for all activities and hire of facilities with a discounted off peak price rate on designated activities and facility hire that is aimed at encouraging usage at low demand times. Council continues to support sports clubs, commercial organisations and the general public through a range of initiatives and funded opportunities designed to help promote usage of the centres and general participation in sport. Council encourage the public to provide feedback on all its leisure services and will take this feedback into account when reviewing services and timetables for future programmes.”