Harrogate Turkish Baths publishes survey results with 'highly sensitive' info blacked out

A heavily-redacted consultation report on whether to stop single-sex sessions at Harrogate Turkish Baths has been published today.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 4:55 pm
Updated Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 4:56 pm
The results of a survey run by Harrogate Turkish Baths were previously restricted but have now been heavily-redacted and released today (27 April).

The historic baths - which is run by Harrogate Borough Council - held a consultation last summer to gain feedback from customers on now-abandoned plans to move to a timetable of mixed-sex sessions only.

A decision to scrap the plans was made on Friday following a strong response from customers, however, the full consultation report was never made public as it contained "highly sensitive information including stories from victims of violent crimes," the council said.

That was until today when the council announced it had published the 39-page report online, although with large parts blanked out.

A council spokesman said the responses were censored with "all personal data, identifying or confidential information" removed so respondents could retain their anonymity.

“When someone takes part in one of our consultations, they do so on the basis that the information they provide will be kept secure and treated in accordance with data protection laws," the spokesman said.

"We also owe them a duty of care to treat their responses as private and confidential.

“In the case of this consultation, responses included highly sensitive information including stories from victims of violent crimes.

“However, in recognition of our commitment to be an open and transparent council, a redacted version of the responses has been published."

Baths manager Chris Mason previously said in a separate report that mixed-sex sessions only would "promote inclusivity" but the planned move was abandoned after 92% of 325 respondents to the survey said they felt customers would stop attending if it went ahead.

In the now-published consultation responses, one customer said the move was "equality gone made" while another described it as "ridiculous".

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

Another respondent said: "I will no longer attend if these sessions are scrapped. I'm of a firm belief the current timetable caters to all sections of society, and moving to mixed session completely will undoubtedly preclude many users from enjoying these baths."

Under separate plans, the baths is also considering making swimwear compulsory under changes which it 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 on this was due on Friday but has been delayed.

A council spokesman previously said: "This matter will be given further consideration, and will include our wider equality obligations."

The 124-year-old baths is located on Parliament Street and 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