PEMBROKESHIRE County Council is to increase its leisure fees and charges for 2014/15 and introduce a two-tier charging structure based on a loyalty card system as of April.

Cabinet agreed the proposals at a meeting on Monday (December 2).

The direct running cost of leisure centres across Pembrokeshire is estimated to be £2m every year.

A review of current charges was undertaken as part of the council’s response to the cost reduction exercise which requires £20m of savings over the next two financial years.

According to a report by the director of finance and leisure, Mark Lewis, the council has invested £20m in leisure facilities across the county in the last decade.

The council has compared its charges with other providers in west Wales, including its counterparts in Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire, and found Pembrokeshire fees to be “significantly below the comparable level elsewhere”.

It plans to introduce a loyalty card aimed at being an “incentive” for customers to take part in leisure activities.

The card will carry an annual fee of £10 for adults, £5 for children and £20 for a family of four, and will give users a 15% discount on standard charges.

The proposed changes will see the cost of a full membership rise from £21 a month to £23.10, with corporate memberships increasing from £17.25 to £19 a month, off off-peak memberships from £13.50 to £14.85.

Adult swimming prices will rise from £2.40 to £3, while the cost of a child will increase by 50p to £2.20.

Swimming lessons will also see increases of £1 for children and £1.10 for adults.

A single gym session will cost £5.60 instead of the current £4.40, while the cost of classes will increase from £4.40 to £5.50 for adults, and from £2.80 to £3.50 for children.

Racquet sports, indoor bowls, facility hire and all-weather pitch hire will also see increases.

These changes are expected to provide the council with an extra £200,000 each year.

Cabinet member for sport and leisure Cllr Elwyn Morse said the increase in fees was a consequence of a reduction in Welsh Government funding to the authority, as well as the need to make budget savings.

“I would like to emphasise the quality of the services in Pembrokeshire and our desire that we continue working towards these aims,” he added.

Council leader Cllr Jamie Adams said: “If there was a way of avoiding this we would. There are many things we would like to avoid but unfortunately Welsh Government funding has pushed us into decisions we would not normally want to make.”

Cllr Adams said he knew other authorities were also reviewing their charging structures and making more “draconian” changes.

“So we are in a good position in that respect,” he added.

Cllr Adams also referred to the significant investment made in leisure facilities, including the recent resurfacing of the Sir Thomas Picton astro turf in Haverfordwest.

He added: “Clearly leisure provision doesn’t go without reinvestment and what we are making sure is that the level of investment is right for the future.”