Union criticises Harrogate council for 'lack of communication' over leisure plans

A union official has accused Harrogate Borough Council of being tight-lipped over its plans to create a private company to run its sports and leisure services.

Monday, 8th June 2020, 5:16 pm
Updated Monday, 8th June 2020, 5:18 pm

David Houlgate, branch secretary at Unison Harrogate, said he has had "no proactive contact" from the council which is looking to save £400,000 a year by setting up a Local Authority Controlled Company.

Around 200 sports and leisure workers would be given new contracts under the proposals, but Mr Houlgate says the new company could put jobs at risk.

"We do know staff are worried because there has been an increase in our membership in sport and leisure since the proposal became public," he said, "and our concerns remain around changes to terms and conditions, together with pension provision if staff transfer over.

Harrogate Borough Council is looking to save 400,000 a year by setting up a Local Authority Controlled Company to run its leisure services.

"There should be no doubt that this can happen if the council ultimately decides to go ahead with the transfer."

A council spokesman previously said the plan would mean it could take an "at an arm’s length" approach to running its centres, including Harrogate Hydro, the Turkish Baths and Ripon Leisure Centre.

The council concluded a consultation on the proposals on May 29 - and it is now expected to make an announcement later this week.

Mr Houlgate said: "We do not believe there is overwhelming public support for such a change so we are seeking further information.

"We have also requested to know how many residents have responded to the recent survey and what the responses are."

Harrogate Borough Council declined to comment.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter