CONCERNS that new year resolutions to hit the gym will be harder to keep due to increasing membership costs have been quashed by Wirral Council who say their prices remain affordable for most.

Labour has warned membership costs at local authority-owned leisure centres are rocketing, with individual fitness sessions becoming more costly, putting people off attending.

Across the country, annual membership bills have increased by up to £100 at two-thirds of public gyms since the coalition took power, according to research carried out by the opposition.

The survey of 95 English councils found a yearly pass now costs £368 on average, an increase of £15 since 2010 – but 48 councils introduced above-average hikes.

But memberships at Wirral Council's Invigor8 leisure centres - which include Beechwood Recreation Centre, Guinea Gap Leisure Centre, Leasowe Leisure Centre, The Oval Leisure Centre, Wirral Tennis and Leisure Centre, and Woodchurch Leisure Centre – are below average, with an annual membership for an adult costing just £353.95.

Councillor Chris Meaden, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "At a time when the cost of things like fuel and energy are on the rise and putting a strain on household budgets, we strongly believe it is important that people aren’t forced to sacrifice activities that keep them fit and well.

"Membership prices for our Invigor8 leisure centres remain affordable for most residents, particularly when compared to the prices of membership at privately-run facilities, and we offer a range of activities plus incentives, discounts and loyalty bonuses to new and existing members.

"These include our 'New Year, New You' promotion aimed at attracting those people who have made a resolution to get fitter in 2014 and which offers potential new members and the chance to try some classes and swimming sessions for free."