Wollongong City Council's proposed fee hikes for personal trainers to use public open space would cripple many small operators, according to Simone Campbell of Summit Fitness.
Ms Campbell took her concerns over the proposed new rates to Wollongong City Council's ordinary council meeting last night as a petition of 500 signatures opposing the fee increases was presented.
The fee increases are contained in the council's draft 2013/14 fees and charges document, which was on public exhibition until yesterday.
"Council is proposing an increase of up to 50 per cent on top of what are already considered extreme rates by national standards," Ms Campbell said.
She said her training targeted lower-income families who could not afford expensive gyms, and higher fees would put services out of reach of many people and organisations.
"The Illawarra is out of alignment with the rest of Australia," Ms Campbell said.
"I don't oppose paying a fee for the use of public spaces ... I am just asking the council to reconsider. I ask for fees to be discounted in the interest of health and wellbeing ... 61 per cent of Australians are overweight ... you have a role to play to nurture and grow a fit, healthy and active community," she told councillors.
Ms Campbell said as a comparison an operator with a business her size in Rushcutters Bay would pay $275 for a two-year lease.
"You are asking me to pay $1613 annually," Ms Campbell said.
"I already pay $1240 annually."
However Cr Greg Petty pointed out that increase equated to just $6 a week.
Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said there was a problem with distinguishing between fitness groups helping the disadvantaged and those that were thriving businesses making a profit.
"Is the issue about fitness or where you want to do it?" he said.
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