Brimhams Active to be scrapped in council leisure shake-up
Jan 9, 2024
Jack Laugher Leisure and Wellness Centre.
The Jack Laugher Leisure and Wellness Centre in Ripon

Brimhams Active, which runs council-owned leisure centres in the Harrogate district, is to be abolished.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive confirmed today it will bring all leisure centres and wellbeing hubs in the county back in-house. The Stray Ferret revealed in November it was planning the move.

It means Brimhams, which was set up less than three years ago by the now defunct Harrogate Borough Council and has overseen the multi-million pound opening and refurbishment of leisure centres in Ripon, Harrogate and Knaresborough, will no longer exist.

The news comes just two months after Knaresborough Leisure and Wellbeing Centre opened.

A report to councillors said the Brimhams model was “particularly advanced”. It added the decision was “no reflection on the current provision or providers who deliver much valued and high quality services across the county”.

Viability of sites

Currently the council’s leisure portfolio, which includes 19 leisure centres, 16 swimming pools, three well-being hubs, a nursery and Harrogate’s Turkish Baths are run by five different operators.

Those arrangements will be moved to the single in-house model in a phased way – with the aim of the service being fully integrated and transformed by 2028. The first change will be for services in the former Selby district where the contract with IHL comes to an end this year.

The next phase of work is to create a leisure investment strategy, which will look at the condition of each site, their future roles and viability.

Harrogate Leisure and Wellness Centre

According to the council, the new service will see a greater focus on health and wellbeing, provide more opportunities for people to participate and will focus on addressing inequalities.

The new delivery model triggers the start of the next phase of the authority’s strategic leisure review, which will consider the future viability of all leisure sites.

Cllr Simon Myers, the council’s executive member for culture, leisure and housing, said:

“With one of the largest leisure portfolios in the country we now have the opportunity to transform the way we deliver those services and put us at the forefront of a national movement towards improving physical and mental health and wellbeing.

“We will be creating a service bespoke to North Yorkshire with locally-based services and targeted provision, with particular emphasis on the needs of groups that may face barriers to participation.”

Brimhams was set up following a strategic review carried out by the borough council, which recommended a local authority-controlled company be formed to run leisure services in the district.

Its sites include Harrogate Leisure and Wellness Centre, Knaresborough Leisure and Wellness Centre, the Jack Laugher Leisure and Wellness Centre in Ripon and Nidderdale Leisure and Wellness Centre in Pateley Bridge.

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