Discussions to replace Ripon Spa Baths with a new swimming pool are still at a ‘very early stage’ according to the leader of Harrogate Borough Council.
After Ripon councillors voted against an alternative Liberal Democrat budget allocating £1.5m to the development, Coun Alan Skidmore (Con) stressed that a ‘Healthy Ripon’ project was already in motion to secure a new pool.
The leader of HBC, Coun Richard Cooper (Con) supported this statement by saying discussions were ongoing with the CCG, Ripon Hospital and the County Council as well as other interested groups and partnerships.
This would mean bringing together the health and social benefits of these services into one site which could include a swimming but the council leader insisted there was still work to be done to secure this. He said: “£3.2m was the estimate for a new pool when we were going to finance it eight years ago but those plans were not supported by Ripon Independents and because of that the plans fell through.
“I now don’t want to predict anything that will happen because when you start predicting the outcome of discussions that is when talks fall apart and I am more concerned about getting a new pool for Ripon than getting headlines.”
The council leader also questioned the ability of the Lib Dems to secure the further £1.7m needed for the development after their alternative budget proposals, stating that ‘you can’t swim in half a pool’.
Kenn Hart, the voluntary chairman of Ripon City Swimming Pool, has expressed his frustration at ‘unfulfilled promises’ and the carrot dangling of a new pool from prospective candidates to voters.
He said: “Apart from serving the local community, it should be noted that Ripon is a tourist destination and an aquatic centre should have facilities to attract those visitors.
Funding should be sought from Sports England, the European Union, local businesses, everywhere and anywhere, in order to provide Ripon a pool for the 21stCentury.”
Mr Hart also said that his ‘ideal site’ for a new pool would be off Kirkby Road, behind the Grammar School, to tye in with their new facilities to create a ‘Centre of Sporting Excellence’ and provide children an ‘excellent opportunity’ to swim and get healthy.