Fate of Harry's Place Childcare centre to be decided at Harrogate council meeting

The Ripon Leisure Centre. Picture: Google Maps.
The Ripon Leisure Centre. Picture: Google Maps.

The future of Harry's Place Childcare at Ripon Leisure Centre will be decided at a meeting of Harrogate Borough Council's cabinet members next week.

Council officers have recommended that councillors vote in favour of closing the childcare centre, with a report stating "its continued operation cannot be justified".

"Ripon Leisure Centre Harry's Place Childcare (HPC) continues to attract very low attendances," the report says.

"Officers consider that the cost of its continued operation cannot be justified."

Closure would deliver budget savings of circa £20,000p.a.

The report states there has been a steady decline in HPC attendances over the last four years.

A six week public consultation in summer 2018, which resulted in a five month trial of measures designed to increase usage and income, initially produced an improved financial performance for the centre.

However, the report states, the projected net cost of operation still remains above £20,000p.a, thus leading to the recommendation for closure.

A proposal to relocate services from Ripon Customer Centre to Ripon

Community House will also be ruled on by councillors.

The new space would operate from June 1, 2019 and comes after a review in 2018 resulted in staff levels being reduced from 21.75 full time positions to 16.25 at the customer service centre.

According to the council's report on the matter, the change of location is tied in with a move to "reprioritise" to reflect the increase in customers accessing services online.

"Changes in channel traffic means we need to reprioritise to ensure customers receive the same excellent level of service, independent of the communication channel they choose to use," the report says.

The report also says that online correspondence must receive the same level of attention as telephone and face-to-face service, "so customers using this medium don’t change back to other more costly channels because they feel they are receiving a poorer service".

Cabinet members will also vote on whether to adopt the Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) Strategy which fronted the overview and scrutiny committee earlier this month.

Among the ambitious plans are for up to 160 electric vehicle charging points to be installed around the district in the next five years.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter