HEALTH club chain Bannatyne's has come under fire from some members after it increased prices at its oldest club this month.

Members at the club in Ingleby Barwick, near Stockton, complained their monthly membership fees had risen by as much as 29 per cent – and some said they had not been informed of the change.

However, the Bannatyne Group strongly refuted the claims they had not informed each and every member of the price rise, saying that had proof in every case.

The Northern Echo:

Bannatyne health club in Ingleby Barwick. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Members took to a forum on Facebook to express their consternation at the changes, with some saying their membership fees had gone up by 29 per cent.

Others said the changes in fees seemed to have no rhyme or reason, going up at different rates, and many rates were different to begin with.

Another said a mother had joined at the same time as her daughter, and the mother's fee had risen by 14 per cent while her daughter's had gone up by just four per cent.

One said: "Mine and my partner's fees have gone up by £10 a month. I wasn't notified either."

Some members suggested emails sent out by the club may have gone into email junk folders, and others said they should have been notified by post to ensure they were aware of the increase.

Members said many people had cancelled their memberships because of the fee increase.

Ingleby Barwick was Duncan Bannatyne's first health club and opened in 1997.

A spokeswoman for the company said: "We review membership fees annually in line with the local market.

"In the case of this club, a multi-million-pound refit has led to significantly better facilities. Furthermore, some members are on legacy prices which are considerably lower than our standard price. We have used a smoothing mechanism that increases prices to these members but maintains a reasonable discount for loyalty. Inevitably, this results in different increases in these individual cases.”

“The change in membership numbers is within normal trend for this time of year, demonstrating that this club is seen to represent excellent value for money.

“We are absolutely confident that all members who have had a fee increase have been notified and, in every case, have proof of this.”

The club has seen a recent refurbishment with a new spa facility, as well as a new cafe bar with late licence and an outdoor patio area.

Bannatyne Health Clubs have 71 sites across the UK, and are owned by businessman Duncan Bannatyne.

The company started life after Mr Bannatyne had a skiing accident and needed regular exercise to recover, but could not find the facilities locally, so started the fitness chain.