Fears for Ripon’s crumbling pool

Ripon's Spa Baths where 18 brick piers supporting the pool are crumbling, say borough council officials. (S)
Ripon's Spa Baths where 18 brick piers supporting the pool are crumbling, say borough council officials. (S)

A MAXIMUM of £40,000 could be spent maintaining Ripon’s Spa Baths over the next three years – but there are no plans for major works to be carried out on the crumbling buiding.

The money will come from Harrogate Borough Council’s Leisure Investment Fund for “essential and reactive” maintenance over the next three years, said a report to the council’s cabinet meeting this week.

But this sum will not cover potential mechanical, electrical or building problems that could see the pool closed for a substantial period of time.

The report also warned serious work is needed on several areas, including the 18 crumbling brick piers which support the pool that need to be demolished and rebuilt. The plant room floor, the pool water cleaning system and the building’s four 20-year-old boilers also need replacing, at an estimated cost of £244,000.

Two other concerns, the poolside windows and the laundry tower, will be maintained in 2011/12 with another £30,000 set aside in the Building Management Account.

But Coun Pat Marsh is concerned that with limited funds available, the Spa Baths face an uncertain future.

“If something goes wrong at the Spa Baths we will either have to find a substantial amount of money from somewhere, or the baths will close.

“We don’t have a hidden pot of money, so it could be devastating for the people of the Ripon.”

She added: “The cabinet members resolved to keep a close eye on the situation but money is what we need because somebody somewhere is going to have to do something about the Spa Baths.”

The report, heard on Wednesday night, comes almost four years after the controversial proposals to build a new swimming facility near the city’s leisure centre.

In November 2007 the borough council considered three options for swimming provision in Ripon – building a brand new facility, keeping the pool open in its current state, or rebuilding the pool at the Spa Baths behind the 1906 frontage.

At the time, it was estimated maintaining the Spa Baths to keep it open for five years would cost £750,000.

Kenn Hart is chairman of Ripon City Amateur Swimming Club and teaches swimming at the Spa Baths two or three times a week.

He said that while maintaining the Spa Baths for the next three years is “all well and good” the city needs forward thinking to come up with an alternative.

“If you go in there on a cold winter’s night the windows barely keep the rain out.

“As a regular user I can see the pool is crumbling. It’s past its sell-by date.

“If this pool will be kept for three years then we need a new pool in three years.”

Coun Andrew Williams (Independent) supported the new pool scheme at Camp Hill Close four years ago.

“Those who campaigned against us four years ago need to examine their consciences,” he said.

“We warned there was a real risk we would end up with an ageing pool and no replacement, and that’s what has happened and we have left the city’s children with a legacy of woefully inadequate swimming facilities.”

The Gazette attempted to contact Ripon’s Conservative Party borough councillors before going to press but none was available to comment.