A COUNTY swimming competition is having to be held in Wolverhampton because a Worcester pool 'charges too much'.

Vivienne Hewitt, who represents Worcester County Swimming Association (WCSA), said Freedom Leisure would not allow the group to hire the pool at Perdiswell Leisure Centre for the six days a year needed to host competitions because of the loss of income from not being able to hold swimming lessons at the same time.

Mrs Hewitt called on the council to do “whatever it could” to help the club secure the hire of Perdiswell.

She said: “All we are asking for is access for two weekends a year and two separate days. That’s a total of six days per year at sensible, competitive charges for a facility that serves the citizens of Worcester for 362 days a year.

“In January, for the first time since the pool opened, we managed to hire the pool for part of our championships. One weekend only. We have just been refused two weekends for 2020.”

Mrs Hewitt said WCSA has previously had to travel to Staffordshire to hold its county championships because the old Sansome Walk pool was not fit for competition.

She hoped the days of travelling away would end when Perdiswell pool opened but that had not been the case.

Speaking to Worcester City Council’s communities committee on Tuesday (March 12), Mrs Hewitt said Freedom Leisure was quoting “prohibitive” charges for hiring the pool – as well as charging for room hire, rubbish removal and for loss of income.

She said WCSA had been quoted £6,000 for hiring the pool for a weekend in January compared to £3,000 in Wolverhampton.

Mrs Hewitt said charging for loss of income on top of “very expensive” hire charges was “hard to swallow.”

Mrs Hewitt said swimming associations across the country book pools for championship competitions a year in advance and most pools work swimming lessons around those times.

She said: “We are at a loss as to why this cannot happen at Perdiswell. Our swimming association is non-profit making, funded by swimmers and parents, keeping thousands of local young people active, healthy and off the streets, producing a huge public health benefit to the population at no cost to this authority.”

Mrs Hewitt said WCSA tried to keep entry fees as low as possible but had lost 354 of its 2,000 registered members last year largely due to cost.

She said: “Other swimming clubs in Worcestershire tell us they'd also like to use the pool for competition but they are either told they can’t or find the charges far too expensive."