Decision to ban nude bathing at Harrogate Turkish Baths delayed but single-sex sessions retained

A decision on whether to ban nude bathing at Harrogate Turkish Baths has been delayed while a planned move to mixed-sex sessions only has been reversed.

Saturday, 24th April 2021, 8:16 am
Updated Saturday, 24th April 2021, 8:18 am
Harrogate Turkish Baths.

The 124-year-old spa and health club - which is run by Harrogate Borough Council - has previously had swimwear-free options at single-sex sessions.

However, covering up could be made compulsory under changes which the council said would reflect greater "equality" in the modern world and address concerns for customers of "varying gender categories including transgender, gender dysphoria and transsexual".

A decision from the council's cabinet member for culture, tourism and sport, councillor Stanley Lumley, was due today but he has now asked for more time to mull it over.

He did, however, decide that plans to change the current timetable of single-sex sessions and to mixed-sex sessions only would be scrapped following big response from bathers.

Confirming the decision, a council spokesperson said: “The decision regarding changes to the timetable, has been approved.”

They added: “The decision regarding compulsory swimwear at the Turkish Baths Harrogate has been deferred. This matter will be given further consideration, and will include our wider equality obligations."

After the now-abandoned timetable changes were revealed last year, customers criticised the move and said people would stop visiting if it went ahead.

Baths manager Chris Mason previously said the changes would promote "inclusivity" but 92% of 325 respondents to a survey said they felt mixed-sex sessions only would stop customers attending.

The majority of respondents also agreed that a "safe space" was needed for men and women separately at the baths.

The Grade II-listed building on Parliament Street has been described as "the most fully-restored" Turkish baths in Britain.

It first opened in 1897 and has been managed by the council since the late 1990s.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter