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Future of Starbeck Baths considered in leisure shake-up

Future of Starbeck Baths considered in leisure shake-up

Published by Lisa Darvill with contributions by Local Democracy Reporter Jacob Webster at 1:05pm 15th June 2020. (Updated at 1:07pm 15th June 2020)

Starbeck Baths – Harrogate’s oldest swimming pool – is looking like it could be shut down for good once again under plans by Harrogate Borough Council. 

  • It was first built in 1870 and was once saved from closure by the community
  • The future of the baths is being considered under the council’s proposals to create a company to run its leisure services
  • The move could see several centres upgraded 
  • Bosses have estimated the council’s 11 leisure venues could become entirely self-funded if Starbeck Baths closed 

The future of the baths is being considered under the council’s proposals to create a Local Authority Controlled Company (LACC) to run its leisure services – a move which could see several centres upgraded and a new gym and swimming pool built in Knaresborough.

Bosses have estimated the council’s 11 leisure venues – in Harrogate, Knaresborough, Ripon and Pateley Bridge – could become entirely self-funded if Starbeck Baths were to be closed. 

Documents show keeping the 150-year-old venue open would come at a cost of £255,000 a year to the council-controlled company. 

And while the council says it is not “proposing” to close down the baths, it seems the move is being given some serious consideration.

Setting out the LACC plans in full this week, Michael Constantine, the council’s head of culture, tourism and sport, said eventually “there will become a question about Starbeck”.

And a report from Mr Constantine says:

“Given the significant short term (and potentially medium term) financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic, and the medium term outlook for the capital strategy, it is crucial that any significant reviews, such as this, are self-financing.

“Based on the modelling, should the decision be taken to commit to the two schemes, then this also requires the agreement to set up the LACC to deliver the existing services at a reduced cost and is predicated on the closure of Starbeck Pool, once the new Knaresborough opens, or before if it fundamentally fails”.

The report also picks out The Hydro, Knaresborough Swimming Pool and Ripon Spa Baths as centres which “are not of a quality expected in the 21st Century” and in need of upgrades. 

The new swimming pool and gym planned for Knaresborough could be built at Conyngham Hall, Hay-a-Park or Knaresborough House.

A redevelopment of the town’s 29-year-old swimming pool on King James Road is also being considered as an option.

Separately, multi-million pound upgrade works are already underway at Ripon Swimming Pool and are expected to be completed next year.

And further upgrades are also planned for The Hydro in Harrogate.

Bosses say the LACC- to be called Brimham’s Active – will give savings of around £400,000 a year.

The plans will be discussed at a meeting of the cabinet on June 17 before full council on July 8.