Hire charges tu-tu much for ballet school

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A dance school has been forced to close after being hit with a 100 per cent increase in hire charges.

The Linlithgow Ballet School ended 10 years of service on October 18, leaving more than 100 children and adults devastated.

Lyn Fitzsimons, who ran the school, originally paid £16 per hour for the use of council sports facilities but in May the council started charging £33 per hour.

She said: “With no notice of this increase, I had no time to prepare.

“Parents pay tuition fees in advance and are given six months notice of any planned increases, so in August and September I could hardly say: ‘Oh, I’m sorry, the council has doubled the studio charge.

“It’s ludicrous. I would have lost all the children who have danced with me for years.”

Disappointed parents joined Lyn in her fight to save the school, with many writing to West Lothian Council and Linlithgow MSP Fiona Hyslop.

Lyn, who is now teaching overseas, said the closure of the school was “heartbreaking and could have been so easily avoided”.

A West Lothian Council spokesman said: “It is disappointing the owner of The Ballet School made the decision to close without fully consulting members.

“Options such as increasing fees or reducing costs in the organisation could have been explored to try to find a sustainable future for the business.

“The decision to increase hire rates was made over a year in advance of the changes going up to give local groups the chance to prepare.

“We regret further reminders were not issued advising of the change to school hire rates prior to April 2014 and we provided a refund on the increase in charges from April to June 2014 as a goodwill gesture.

“We believe the facilities at Linlithgow Academy offer good value for anyone looking to run a similar dance class.

“Another tutor has already expressed serious interest in taking over the class times.”