ANGRY parents can’t believe swimming lessons will be upped by a whopping 65 per cent across Southend’s pools.

Prices for lessons at the Southend Leisure and Tennis centre - run for Southend Council by Fusion Lifestyle along with other pools across the town - are set to rise from £17 to £28 a month.

The hike will apply from this Sunday - and many parents are not happy at all.

Kayley Ansell’s daughter takes regular swimming lessons at Shoebury swimming pool.

She said: “My daughter has been attending swimming lessons at Shoebury pool for two years at a cost of £17.08 per month. Last week, I received an email regarding a huge increase to £28 a month. The email arrived on the evening September 19 with the direct debit due to take the increased instalment just 12 days later on October 1. It’s not on.

“It has left many parents unable to afford the rise and forced to take their children out of lessons. Other parents are removing their children from lessons out of principle because we have been informed by the leisure centre that there will be no additional benefits offered by Fusion Lifestyle alongside this price increase.”

While the Eastern Avenue centre has undergone an extensive refurbishment, there are no plans to revamp pools at Shoebury or Leigh.

Mrs Ansell added: “Swimming is acknowledged by the council as an important life skill to teach our children and an important physical activity to support our health and well-being throughout the generations, however this price increase is moving the luxury of swimming out of reach of many hard-working families in Shoebury.”

Ron Woodley, Independent councillor for Thorpe ward, wasn’t impressed either. He said: “With many residents facing economic hardship, this does seem to be a mean move by the council who should maybe absorb the costs for this financial year.”

A spokesman for Southend Council said: “Fusion met with us recently to say that they need to increase the prices to reflect the actual costs of providing lessons. The price of lessons has not increased for four years even though the cost of providing them has. This is as a result of several factors, including the rise in living wage and the enhanced programme that the swim school now offers.

“The prices have been benchmarked locally and our new prices will still be lower than some other prices in the borough but with a better offer.

“In addition to the swimming lessons, the direct debit also includes unlimited pool swimming time, so if residents use the facilities outside of the lessons, there are no extra costs.”