One man is urging customers to "withdraw support" from Helston Sports Centre after discovering it was no longer possible to pay by cash.

Parent company GLL has introduced the new system, having taken over the contract for all 15 Cornwall Council-owned leisure centres and facilities in the county on April 1, 2017 - including in Helston. They are now run under the Better brand.

The company said it was designed to make life easier for customers and improve customer service by reducing queues at reception, as well as eliminate the potential for thefts of cash.

However, Ken Sampson has contacted the Packet claiming that anyone without a bank card was "effectively barred."

He said: "Now, if you are a child with your pocket money you won't get in, a disabled person without capacity to manage current account banking you won't get in, an elderly person who prefers to conduct transactions in cash you won't get in, or if you are one of the UK's two million without a bank account you are effectively barred from using the facility."

He claimed that staff had been left "in a precarious position with service users many of whom they have known for years."

"If you believe Helston Swimming Pool should be open to all - children, the disabled, the elderly and people without bank accounts - then you have two choices, either withdraw your support in the short term and/or complain to Better, preferably do both.

"Let's support our pool, the staff at the pool and the people of Helston by telling Better we won't accept them dictating who can use our pool and how we can pay for it," added Mr Sampson, who said queueing to pay had never been an issue at Helston.

James Curry, head of service for GLL in the south west and Wales, said it had been announced in January that GLL would be introducing a "cashless approach" in its leisure centres this year, with centres in Launceston and Newquay going cashless back in the summer.

The option to pay with cash was withdrawn from Helston Sports Centre on September 9.

Mr Curry said: “In each case, the new system was well-publicised six weeks before going live in the venues concerned. This included posters and banners in the reception area, social media posts and prominent website information. The change was also discussed with the centre’s customer forum.

"We consulted Cornwall Council about our plans at the start and have kept them fully informed throughout the implementation process."

He added that there were a number of ways to pre-pay for sessions.

“Customers are encouraged to book and pay online in advance for classes and activities. The customer service adviser on duty can take card payments and, working on the same principal as an Oyster Card, membership cards can have funds added to them – making it easy for children or adult members to pay without using money.

"GLL also accepts other national pre-loadable cards that are widely used in the UK and gift cards can be bought online in advance.

“Our staff have all been asked to explain the options to anyone who visits without the means to pay at a cashless centre and entry will not be refused. It would surprise me greatly if this has not been the case in Helston," he said.

Information on the sport centre's website page suggests that for children without a debit card parents can pay in advance online or by phone. The firm company was now also partnered with nimbl, a pre-paid debit card and smartphone app with parental controls for children aged eight to 18 learn.

Mr Curry said before going cashless the company had researched the number of cash transactions being made in its centres and described the numbers proportionally as "tiny."

"We believe adopting an approach that doesn’t involve coins or notes is safer, easier and in line with current trends. Our aim is to make life easier for our customers and our experience in both Launceston and Newquay suggests that is what the new system achieves," he added.