Price freeze at Fife leisure centres as doors set to re-open
Entry fees for Fife's leisure centres are being frozen at 2020 prices ahead of re-opening later this month.
Paul Vaughan, the authority's head of communities, says the move will encourage people to return to the venues from April 26.
The freeze will remain in place until April 2022, when a planned new membership scheme and "simpler" pricing scheme will be introduced.
Mr Vaughan told councillors last week: "What we are proposing is that we freeze prices for the coming year - 2021-22 - to support the return of groups, clubs and individuals to physical activity and sport and then work to phase in any changes in those prices from April 2022."
Other initiatives are in the works to encourage Fifers to get active post-Covid, despite acknowledgements that attendance rates may not return to pre-pandemic levels for up to two years.
A new booking system is being introduced from next month allowing locals to book and pay for fitness classes and other facilities in advance.
The council and Fife Sport and Leisure Trust (FSLT) are also aiming to join up parts of the region's fitness offering to create an all-in-one concession and membership scheme.
At present, Fife has two concession schemes - "Fifestyle" is run by the council for its community use facilities within schools and outdoor centres, while FSLT offers a separate concession scheme and annual memberships for the Kingdom's 12 leisure centres.
This set-up has been recognised as "confusing" and "lacking clarity" by both the council and its arms-length leisure body.
A plan has been hatched to align the two in some way - potentially meaning more discounts and membership benefits for Fifers - with details to be revealed later this year.
As part of its latest budget the council administration has also agreed to spend a total of £21.9 million on improving a number of Fife leisure centres including Burntisland's troubled Beacon Centre, which has been saved from permanent closure.
Cllr Judy Hamilton said: "Through Covid we've discovered that physical activity, getting out and about, is so, so important.
"Inactivity is a major contributor to one in 14 deaths so health and wellbeing is a very, very important part of our strategy."