Lib Dems raise concerns over closure to the public of Harrogate’s only community sports facility

15 July 2014

The Sports Hall at Rossett School, which had previously been run by Harrogate Borough Council, will close its doors to the public on 22 July 2014.

Cllr Pat Marsh, Shadow Member for Culture, Tourism & Sport, has asked repeatedly about the future of the Sports Centre since
its future as a council-run facility became uncertain, and this week at Full Council on Wednesday has tabled this written question:

Could the Cabinet member for Culture, Tourism & Sport tell the Council how you will achieve your objective of implementing a Health & Wellbeing Plan across Sport and Leisure when you have overseen the closure of Harrogate’s only community sports centre based at Rossett School?

Closure of the only community sports centre in Harrogate a town of 75,000 people is disgraceful.

The council carried out a Value for Money Review of all its culture, tourism and sports facilities in 2012-13, which included looking at alternative ownership models, such as trusts, which enable community facilities to survive with a strong degree of community ownership and management.

Further practical proposals, however, involving any strategy or recommendations for the future of culture, sports and leisure in Harrogate district, have yet to emerge.

With grants to local government set to cumulatively decrease every year until 2019, and leisure services being a discretionary spend for councils rather than statutory, it is vital that effective strategies are in place to ensure that local taxpayers do have access to affordable and accessible sports and leisure facilities.

Cllr Helen Flynn, Deputy Leader of the Lib Dem Group said: It seems perverse indeed that only days after the world’s most popular annual sporting event passed through town—twice—our only community sports hall closes its doors to the general public.

Public health is a massive issue in all local authority areas, given the growing pressure on NHS budgets, and it strikes us that the Council should be doing all it can to promote healthy lifestyles.

Furthermore, we are appalled that there has been no effective public consultation on this issue. Surely the local taxpayers are entitled a say on an issue as significant as this?

The Council will continue to run the outdoor facilities at Rossett School for the near future and has swimming and some leisure facilities at its pools in Harrogate, Starbeck, Ripon and Pateley Bridge.

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