PESHAWAR: Residents of the posh area of University Town have appealed to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary to cancel the recently imposed Rs15,000 membership fee for the University Town Club (formerly known as University Town Ladies Club) for the public.
In their appeal, they said the town committee’s decision was designed to keep many middle-income residents away from the club and to serve some elites of the locality.They said the committee had been trying to impose such fees since 2018, which the University Town residents had challenged.
The residents argued that compared to the distant past when University Town dwellers were largely property owners, today they come from a diversified population, which includes middle-class tenants, household employees and others living on a low income.
Average Peshawar residents are already suffering a huge financial burden of inflated utility bills with multiple taxes.University Town and its surroundings do not have any public parks and residents flock to the University Town Club space for occasional gatherings, walks or other social activities in a natural environment.
This applies specifically to women and children, many of whom cannot afford the hefty membership fees, added the residents.The club was initially built for womenfolk, thus named the University Town Ladies Club. It was conceived as a healthy community space for the women residents of the University Town who paid a nominal “maintenance” fee for facilities, such as a walking track, tennis lawns and a squash court.
In 2016, the KP government assumed control of the club and renamed it University Town Club, and also allowed men as members.The residents said now the committee is planning to use it for commercial purposes, and that too, dedicated to a few wealthy families who are influencing the committee to impose restrictive membership fees.
“Places like Islamabad and even Hayatabad have several walking tracks and parks that cater to the public’s needs free of cost. These are needs which fall within basic social rights. We voted for this government because we believed that it would break the status quo. With such blatant favouritism, people are losing confidence in government now,” said the appeal.
The University Town population consists of many income levels that include students, retired citizens, and many housewives with no personal sources of income.The residents said asking for a membership fee of Rs15,000 for town residents and Rs50,000 for outsiders, followed by a monthly fee and monthly services fees is extremely inappropriate and limiting.
“With the rise in chronic diseases owing to sedentary lifestyles, it’s important to provide healthier green spaces and not snatch the existing ones by imposing heavy fees,” said a member.
“We, the inhabitants of University Town, request to withhold the levy of hefty membership fees plus huge monthly subscription charges and restore its status of an exclusive space for the womenfolk and their families for their health and wellbeing,” stated the appeal.