People ‘priced out of fun’

17/09/11'Launch party BMX Jam at the XC Centre, Jarman Park. Here Even Cowler (14) and James Holah (15) are showing off their skills with a Footjam Nosepick.
17/09/11'Launch party BMX Jam at the XC Centre, Jarman Park. Here Even Cowler (14) and James Holah (15) are showing off their skills with a Footjam Nosepick.

FEARS have been expressed that high profile new leisure spots in Hemel Hempstead have priced out families living nearby.

The cost of using the XC, the Snow Centre and the coming revamped LeisureWorld has led to concerns they will alienate those living in wards ranked among the most deprived in the country.

Scott Boyer, manager of Adeyfield Community Centre, said: “Is it going to be affordable to local people? Otherwise you will have outside people coming in to use it to the detriment of locals.

“If parents have three or four children and less disposable income, they can’t afford to send their children up there. Adeyfield is one of the most deprived in the country.

“There should be an initiative where there are memberships and discounts for local people.”

Currently at the Snow Centre it can cost up to £29 per hour for an adult and £23 for a child under 16, and that is before training and equipment is taken into account.

At the XC, it can cost an adult £8.10 to skate for three hours or £11.60 to go climbing, while for a youngster the prices would be £6.60 and £9.10.

Meanwhile, plans have been submitted to overhaul LeisureWorld with a new bowling alley, gym and children’s play facility alongside an ice rink, cafes and restaurants.

Mr Boyer has called for a scheme where those on low incomes could use the facilities at off-peak times for a discounted rate.

“We need the amenities. The thing of the XC, the Snow Centre and the proposed new LeisureWorld is that they don’t alienate people,” he said.

“There’s a lot of people who won’t find them affordable. That causes resentment. There should be initiatives to help local people afford those facilities. If local kids can’t afford to go up there, where will they go?

“There’s a lot of people who will miss out on potholing, climbing and sledging because they can’t afford it.”

A spokesman for The Snow Centre said: “Last year we did a special invite to local schools offering them £5 for a ski or snowboard lesson and all summer we offered sledging for just £5.

“We value our local customers and will look to do something similar this summer.

“We also have a membership scheme which gives a minimum 30 per cent discount on all recreational lift passes and group lessons.”

David Gill, group manager for partnerships and policy at Dacorum Borough Council, said the Dacorum Card gave free XC memberships.

“We’re proud to have such high class leisure facilities in Dacorum which draw people into the area and provide employment,” he said.

“We run a scheme called the Dacorum Card which offers discounts on a wide range of amenities to local people claiming means tested benefits.”