Dolphins out of water, Riverstone

Rescue mission: The Riverstone community has rallied together to save Riverstone Dolphins RSL Youth Swimming Club. "The council has lost touch with its ratepayers needs and wants," Karen Mellenbergh said. Picture: Helen Nezdropa

Rescue mission: The Riverstone community has rallied together to save Riverstone Dolphins RSL Youth Swimming Club. "The council has lost touch with its ratepayers needs and wants," Karen Mellenbergh said. Picture: Helen Nezdropa

The biggest swimming club in the Blacktown local government area will sink if a proposed pool hire price hike of 455 per cent goes ahead.

Riverstone Dolphins RSL Youth Swimming Club may not get off the starter's block in October under Blacktown Council's plans to increase its pool hire fees from $66 an hour to $300.

The club boasts 200 members and celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

Improvements made to Riverstone pool in that time have been through fund-raising or paid for by the club.

Until now, the club charged swimmers and spectators $1 each to attend weekly meets, which will go up a minimum $5 a person and as much as $10 in bad weather to cover costs.

"We will cease to exist," assistant secretary Karen Mellenbergh said.

"It used to cost the club $2000 to hire the pool for 46 hours a year," she said.

"Now it will cost $12,000.

"I don't know of any organisation that would put up fees that high in one hit.

"Even if fees are reduced by half, we still couldn't afford it."

The club prides itself on making swimming affordable.

"We not here to make a profit," founding member Peter Uphill said.

"We're a long way from the beach and are here to encourage children to be part of the community. This is a community that's growing in leaps and bounds and all council wants to do is force clubs out."

At last week's meeting, Liberal councillors accused their Labor counterparts of creating a scare campaign and said there were 250 different fees for aquatic centres across Blacktown City.

"We've got to put this into perspective," Councillor Jacqueline Donaldson said.

"This is a $4 increase.

"Going to the movies costs a lot more than $4. Fees need to be standardised across the board and have look at who's using our pools."

Independent Russ Dickens gave Labor his vote to call for an urgent report to review the case.

"It could be too little too late," Mrs Mellenbergh said, "but we will keep fighting".

"We understand there will always be a small increase in fees in line with ongoing costs. All we want is to be part of the consultation."

What do you think of the cost increases?

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