Peter Cetera: Glory of LoveiTunesAmazon

Peter Cetera: Glory of LoveiTunesAmazon

Harrogate Lib Dems and Tories react to leisure plan approval

Harrogate Lib Dems and Tories react to leisure plan approval

Published by Lisa Darvill with contributions by Local Democracy Reporter Jacob Webster at 1:00pm 13th July 2020.

Harrogate’s Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have reacted after approving a major management overhaul of the district’s leisure centres.

Councillors last week gave their final backing to the creation of a council-controlled company – to be called Brimham’s Active – to run its 11 leisure venues after estimating it could save around £400,000 a year in business rates relief and VAT benefits.

The plan – which will also see the council borrow £23million to upgrade some centres and build a new gym and swimming pool in Knaresborough – was unanimously voted through by full council after the Lib Dems tabled amendments which they say tightens up the company’s commitment to workers’ rights, accountability and keeping customer prices low.

This was after criticism from the opposition councillors over the way members of the public were consulted on the move which will see a select few council officials given key decision making powers on the Local Authority Controlled Company (LACC).

Speaking after approval was given, Lib Dems leader Coun Pat Marsh said:

“It’s very disappointing the way the council went about its consultation, however it’s welcome that after much work and pressure from Liberal Democrat councillors, the Conservatives accepted our amendment with only minor tweaks.

“This new motion should enable the council to save money, residents to see an improved service, and workers’ rights to be protected. We will be keeping a very close eye to ensure that this is respected.

“Liberal Democrat councillors will always seek to ensure residents are consulted and their views are listened to, so that they are afforded quality services, and that workers’ rights are protected.”

Coun Stanley Lumley, the council’s Conservative cabinet member for culture, tourism and sport, previously said the council’s approval of the plans is the “biggest financial decision” it has made for “many years”.

He's now added:

"Getting to this point has been the culmination of a lot of work over many months exploring the benefits becoming a LACC has to offer.

“This includes looking after our workforce who work professionally and tirelessly and to provide vital services for your residents, helping them to live longer healthier happier lives.

“It isn’t just about savings, although why wouldn’t we adopt something that offers nearly £300k worth of savings per year? It also shows the level of investment we are providing to improve the health, fitness and well-being provision for residents across the district.

“Of course we’re going to ensure prices are competitive. We have to, we need to not only provide the latest facilities but also encourage everyone, young and old, from across the district to visit, and hopefully become members.”

The council will spend £300,000 on company start-up costs and launch the company by August 2021.