A PRICE hike being eyed by the council means the cost of leisure centres in Ards will have gone up by around 20% in two years.

Last year an adult swimming ticket in Ards Blair Mayne cost £4.40 to centre members; next year, it’s set to be £5.20.

For non-members, meanwhile, the price of a ticket for non-members is set to increase from £5.50 last year to £6.40 next year.

The cost of using Ards Blair Mayne’s spa is to go up by around 15%, rising from £15.75 last year to £18 next year.

Fitness classes are set to see a 17% hike over two years, as well as a 13% increase in the price of a  gym ticket.

That’s all in a series of rising fees expected to be passed by a council committee this week.

Some of the changes are in line with price hikes imposed by Serco in North Down.

The public services firm runs all council-owned leisure centres in Bangor and Holywood, and has the freedom to set its own prices with no input from the local authority.

For several years, council officials have felt they should bring prices across Ards in line with Serco’s North Down fees, arguing that charging different amounts for similar services wouldn’t be fair.

Officials also point to high inflation as a factor in the Ards price hikes, stating that many price hikes from this year to next are in line with a 6.7% inflation rate recorded in September.

Inflation has since fallen, with the most recent figures putting it around 4.5%, but Ards and North Down Council officials have pegged their price hikes to the September figure.

It’s the cumulative rise over two years that truly brings home the scale of cost increases in the Ards area, however.

The fee hikes were due to be voted on during a council committee meeting that got underway shortly after this newspaper went to press last night.