Poll: Would you be willing to make a financial contribution towards Ripon's new swimming pool?

The new swimming pool next to the leisure centre will replace the ageing Spa Baths.
The new swimming pool next to the leisure centre will replace the ageing Spa Baths.

As campaigners call for Ripon's new swimming pool plans to include a six-lane facility with a secondary learner pool, city Coun Andrew Williams has suggested that residents could make a financial contribution towards the project.

At a full council meeting last week, Coun Williams stressed the importance of getting the plans right for generations to come, and said residents could make a contribution through their parish precept to ensure that the city gets all the facilities it wants.

He said if Harrogate Borough Council is serious about amending the plans to make the pool a six-lane with a separate learner pool , the city council could work with them to help if funding is an issue.

Coun Williams said: "It's one of the most important capital projects that the city will have for generations to come, and I believe it's important that we get it right, because there isn't an opportunity to go back and get it right a second time.

"It's possible that this city council could help to bridge the gap, because I don't believe that there would be an outcry in the city if we were to increase the parish precepts to make an annual contribution towards providing a better swimming pool in the city.

"I believe that at least Ripon residents would feel that their money was being put to good use by providing a facility that could be used by young and old. I believe that if this council were being asked to make a financial contribution on a yearly basis towards the running costs or the capital costs of a swimming pool, it is something that I think local residents would not necessarily object to, providing that it is set at a fair and reasonable sum.

"I believe that residents should have the final say on whether they wanted to pay an extra supplement onto the precept to ensure that Ripon has the all-singing, all-dancing swimming facility that local children should be able to enjoy, and to see how we can secure the very best facility that local residents and local parents crave.

"Let's make sure that Ripon has the best that money can buy rather than simply a make-do facility because the Spa Baths are past their best."

Coun Pauline McHardy said the plans should be amended to reflect an increasing population in the city.

She added: "And of course if we're going to have an increase in homes in the city, there'll be an increase in people using it."

Members of the Ripon Pool Action Group (RPAG) have been campaigning for the existing plans to be amended, which include a 25-metre swimming pool and a five-lane facility.

Speaking on behalf of the group at the city council meeting, Pamela Simpson Phillips, who is a regular swimmer at the Spa Baths, said: "Ripon's expanding at the moment, there are far too many people for that pool, there are some days it is just crammed and nobody can swim.

"We do need a separate pool, and that's what we're asking for really."

Responding to Coun Williams, Coun Mike Chambers said: "I think you'll find that it's rather more than a make-do facility, however I do accept that it is perhaps not in accord with what the residents of Ripon would like to see.

"There are clearly some issues with funding, however, I know that Coun Lumley is taking on board what the RPAG have had to say. I know that there is still some way to go on the decisions to be made as to what the pool will look like."

In a recent statement, Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for culture, tourism and sport, Stanley Lumley, said: “Naturally, reversing the work we have already done costs money and takes time. I will have to decide whether that is justified when one considers the fact that Ripon Spa Baths could fail at any time and that the new facility is, as the group acknowledge, a substantial improvement on what is currently available.”