Council presses ahead with plans to open Ripon leisure centre despite safety fears
Last updated Nov 10, 2021
Photo of Ripon Swimming Pool

Harrogate Borough Council has voted to press ahead with plans to open a new leisure centre and pool in Ripon next month despite concerns about the long-term safety of the site.

A new council-commissioned report by engineering company Stantec outlines measures to mitigate the effects of a void that was detected last year.

The report says the measures should allow the pool and the first floor of the leisure centre to open safely on December 8 while the ground floor remains closed.

But it adds there is a “residual risk” of “catastrophic collapse” because of ongoing ground instability issues at the Dallamires Lane site since the original leisure centre was built in 1995.

This prompted Dr Alan Thompson, a geologist and director of Cuesta Consulting in Somerset, and Stanley Mackintosh, a chartered engineer in Ripon, to write to the council urging it to postpone a decision and give greater consideration to finding an alternative site.

But at last night’s cabinet meeting, councillors voted unanimously in support of a recommendation by Michael Constantine, the council’s head of operations, to carry out further work while opening most of the site.

Dr Thompson and Mr Mackintosh’s concerns were not mentioned.

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Mr Constantine said work would probably start in January and last nine months, during which time the ground floor of the leisure centre will be closed.

Michael Constantine

Michael Constantine at last night’s meeting

He said the council had been “assured by consultants” that this course of action was safe.

Councillor Stanley Lumley, the cabinet member for culture, tourism and sport, said:

“We have to follow the advice of the professionals. That’s why we pay them, why we employ them. We should surely act on that advice given.”

Council leader Richard Cooper added:

“We are providing a state of the art swimming pool for the people of Ripon to replace a pool that could have collapsed at any time.”