Ripon set for referendum on Cathedral’s £8m annexe

Residents of Ripon are set to take part in a referendum to gauge opinion on the Cathedral’s £8m new annexe.
Ripon Cathedral.Ripon Cathedral.
Ripon Cathedral.

The referendum, officially called a parish poll, has been proposed by Kirkgate resident Stanley Mackintosh.

It would be organised by Ripon City Council after he received backing from the two councillors needed to bring it forward.

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It will be debated at a parish meeting in the city next month when Mr Mackintosh will require support from just 10 residents for the poll to go ahead.

Stanley Mackintosh.Stanley Mackintosh.
Stanley Mackintosh.

It’s hoped the referendum could take place in April and anyone who is on the electoral roll in Ripon would be able to take part in the secret ballot.

It is set to include around 12 yes or no questions on topics including the felling of trees, open space and impact on businesses.

Mr Mackintosh called the poll a “very powerful democratic device” that he hopes will encourage the Cathedral to find a solution to their annexe plans that has the support of the public.

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Ripon council will bear the cost of the poll which could be as much as £10,000, according to a councillor, when asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The council is looking for a venue larger than the town hall to hold the parish meeting due to the high public interest.

It will be the first poll of its kind in Ripon since 2001 when Mr Mackintosh brought one forward regarding secondary school selection in the city.

He said: “The poll allows everybody to express their view, just like in an election.

"We’ll try to include all key points.

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"It’s an analysis of people’s opinions on all the main issues.

"In the end, we all want an outcome that benefits the Cathedral and keeps it strong.”

The Cathedral says the proposed annexe on an area of public space called Minster Gardens is crucial to offer 21st Century facilities including a cafe while safeguarding the future of its choir.

But it has paused its planning application to North Yorkshire Council in order to take stock and listen to suggestions from the public following criticism of the new building’s location, the felling of 11 trees and its impact on businesses.

Ripon Cathedral has been approached for comment on the poll but did not send a response at the time of publication.