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Council uncommunicative on leisure plans, says union

Council uncommunicative on leisure plans, says union

Published by May Norman at 5:45am 9th June 2020. (Updated at 12:26pm 9th June 2020)

Unison: "We've had “no proactive contact” from the council over the plans"

  • A union is accusing Harrogate Borough Council of being silent over plans to change to sport and leisure services in the district.
  • The council says the changes would give sport and leisure facilities more freedom - and save over £400,000 per year.
  • But a union is warning it could lead to job losses and worse terms and conditions for workers. 
  • Harrogate Borough Council has however hit out at claims it's being "tight lipped" 

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.

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.

Mr Houlgate said:

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

“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 added:

“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.”

However, Harrogate Borough Council has hit out at the allegation the authority has been "tight lipped". 

A spokesman for Harrogate Borough Council said:

"For Unison to suggest we have been "tight lipped" is ridiculous.

"The union is aware of the proposal to create a local authority controlled company to manage our sport and leisure services.

"To expect a running commentary while a report is prepared for councillors to consider at next week's meeting of cabinet is unrealistic.

"The proposal would enable us to save £400,000 a year and invest in new facilities for the benefit of people across the district.

"Our valued colleagues would be transferred to the new company on exactly the same terms and conditions they enjoy now."