Club facing fee rise after rates change

PUBLISHED: 10:00 17 April 2008 | UPDATED: 20:09 05 July 2010

A sports club earmarked to play host to Olympic competitors fears its admission fees will have to rise after discovering it will now have to pay nearly £8,000 a year in business rates.

A sports club earmarked to play host to Olympic competitors fears its admission fees will have to rise after discovering it will now have to pay nearly £8,000 a year in business rates.

The Waveney Gymnastics Club in Lowestoft is a registered charity, but has been left reeling after the district council's decision to remove the 20pc business rate relief given to a number of local sports organisations.

The government pays the remaining 80pc, but the controversial decision by Waveney District Council has left the gym club contemplating a 5pc increase in its fees.

Club bosses have pledged to fight the plans and have gained the support of Waveney MP Bob Blizzard.

Treasurer Colin Price said: “As we are a charity, these costs would be passed on to the parents and you're talking about another 5pc increase on fees. Every time we put the fees up people drop out, and that goes against government policy to get kids involved in activities.”

The club is one of 11 sites in Suffolk featured in the 2012 Pre-Games Camp Guide, providing the potential for national teams to use the state of the art centre, in Southwell Road, for training for the Olympics in London.

“That bill is our single largest bill for the year. Hopefully we have got the Olympics bringing tourism to the area, then the council turn round and withdraw the rate relief without consultation.

“I don't know who made the decision; we spoke to senior people at the council and they knew nothing about it,” added Mr Price.

Mr Blizzard, who has written to the council urging it to rethink the cash demand, said: “Just as the club has been lauded for being on the verge of attracting Olympic athletes to Lowestoft for training, with all the economic advantages that brings for the area, the council takes away their 20pc rate relief.

“It's a real kick in the teeth for the club and for local sport. The council should be supporting their efforts.”

A spokesman for the council said the decision had only been taken at the end of last month and all relevant organisations had been advised in October 2007 about the possible changes, with reports and agendas available to the public.

“When assessing the provision of discretionary rate relief to local organisations and companies the absolute priority is to be as fair as possible and to provide money for those that need it most,” he added.

“Waveney District Council is fully committed to sport and physical activity in the community and sports clubs can still get discretionary relief on their current bill.”

“Companies and organisations throughout the district are expected to pay business rates, but they have also been told that if they have difficulties we are happy to hear from them, and we will do whatever we can to help.”

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