Anger at Ripon swimming pool decision - Here's Harrogate Borough Council's response

The Mayor of Ripon has called an extraordinary meeting of the city council to discuss Harrogate Borough Council's (HBC) decision to build a six-lane swimming pool for the city, without a learner facility.

Thursday, 26th July 2018, 1:43 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th July 2018, 1:47 pm
The leader of Harrogate Borough Council, Coun Richard Cooper.

It’s been a long fight for members of Ripon Pool Action Group and residents campaigning for a learner facility, but at a full Harrogate Borough Council meeting last week, a motion was passed to move forward with a six-lane pool.

The Harrogate and Knaresborough Liberal Democrats submitted an amendment proposing that the council approves plans for a five-lane pool with a learner facility, but the amendment was not passed.

Their leader, Pat Marsh, told the ‘Gazette: “It was a sad sight to witness the Conservative group on Harrogate Borough Council totally dismissing the people of Ripon who attended a Council meeting to ask that the Council replace their ailing Pool with a five-lane pool with a learner pool.

“Where is the passion and the desire to make sure that Harrogate council does listen and does deliver to the people who have elected them?

“Seeing what happened at the council meeting, it is not difficult to see why the people of Ripon so often claim that they are overlooked or neglected by Harrogate council.”

The Mayor of Ripon, Coun Pauline McHardy (Ind, Minster ward), said: “Hundreds of extra houses will be built in Ripon, we need a swimming pool that will serve the needs of the people of Ripon and the surrounding areas. A learner pool is an essential need, and not an added luxury.”

Response from Harrogate Borough Council

The leader of Harrogate Borough Council, Coun Richard Cooper, has responded to criticism of Harrogate Borough Council over their decision to move forward with a six-lane swimming pool without a learner facility.

Responding to criticism from the district’s Liberal Democrats leader, Coun Pat Marsh, Coun Cooper said: “Six months ago the council proposed a brand new five lane pool. Opposition politicians then called for a six lane pool and a learner pool. We amended our plans to a six lane pool. Opposition politicians are now calling for a five lane pool and a learner pool.

“In the midst of the constantly changing requests from those claiming to speak for the community we have a pool that could fail at any time, leaving the real Ripon community without any facility at all. We don’t want to let that happen.

“We also have professional advice which we do not believe supports the inclusion of a learner pool This, coupled with an extensive public consultation, in which many local swimming groups and swimmers participated in, gives us a high degree of confidence that this new multi-million pound facility will be great for the people of Ripon.”

Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure, tourism and sport, Coun Stanley Lumley, said: “The option recommended by officers and accepted by full council will provide an improved, modern, facility to replace the ageing Ripon Spa Baths. The new pool will have six, 25 metre, lanes which is a vast improvement over the existing pool.

“There will also be a hot and cold sauna and upgraded leisure centre facilities which meet the desires of the vast majority of people who responded to last year’s consultation.”

Ripon Pool Action Group member Dewi Winkle said their group has done everything they can to fight for a learner pool, and he said members are now keen to move forward and have conversations with Harrogate Borough Council about making the most of the new facility.

The extraordinary meeting of Ripon City Council will be held on Monday night, July 30, at the Town Hall, starting at 6pm.