U-turn by Midlothian Council over OAP gym card

Dr William Cameron MacKenzie outside Lasswade Centre
Dr William Cameron MacKenzie outside Lasswade Centre

Midlothian Council has reconsidered a 30 per cent rise in leisure membership for senior users, after being accused of misleading card holders.

Retired GP Doctor William Cameron MacKenzie (68), from Lasswade, has used the Active Golden Years Tonezone card for three years. It covers all the council leisure facilities in Midlothian. From tomorrow (Friday) this card for pensioners was due to cost £175 a year, up from £135. However that will now be £146.

A council spokesman said: “We sent an email and letters to all our Tonezone members the day after the council agreed the increases. Since then, however, we have reconsidered the Active Golden Years lump sum, annual memberships. A decision has therefore been taken to make the annual membership for individuals £146(12 months for the price of 10), in line with Teenzone cards.

“We can only apologise if Dr MacKenzie feels we have not informed our customers of the changes sufficiently clearly. That was certainly not our intention.”

Speaking before the U-turn, Doctor MacKenzie was furious about the email he received on March 9 from the Tonezone manager.

He said: “It says that the average rise is two per cent. But the actual figure for senior citizens is 30 per cent.

“I go to gyms and the swimming pool and nobody had noticed this change.

“They (councillors) voted it though so it’s done now. But to not announce it to the public is a terrible thing to do.

“Especially when it’s old people who have a fixed income. For me it’s no problem, I can afford it. But there are a lot of people that are on really quite limited income so this is a steep rise in their outgoings.

“When it changes people will get a shock when they see their direct debits.

“I think not announcing it is shocking. I suggest the council writes an email to all the card members to let them know of the increases.

“What I would like to see happen is for them to just come clean and say it’s a 30 per cent pay increase.

“Then let people decide if they want to continue or not.

“And they should have done the rise over stages.

“I think it’s important that everyone does know that this is happening and make up their minds to pay or cancel their subscription.

“People have the right to make their own decision.”