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Council approves spending another £2m on Ripon leisure centre ground works

Tuesday, 28 May 2024 15:15

By Thomas Barrett, Local Democracy Reporter

The Jack Laugher Leisure Centre in Ripon.

Senior Conservative councillors met today to approve spending a further £2m on pumping grout into a void underneath Ripon Leisure Centre.

It’s hoped the works will stabilise the ground so the leisure centre can be refurbished.

But it will take the total amount of money spent on the works to £8.5m with no guarantee that it will succeed.

Ripon is susceptible to voids and sinkholes because it lies on a layer of water-soluble rock called gypsum.

Ripon’s Jack Laugher Leisure and Wellness Centre opened in March 2022 but whilst the pool is in use, plans for a gym at the existing leisure centre on the same site were delayed after the void was discovered.

Instead, a temporary gym was erected in the site’s car park costing £300,000.

The council’s executive met in Northallerton this morning to rubber-stamp the additional spend on ground stabilisation works.

There was no discussion about the move other than Tory council leader Carl Les asking his executive to “yet again” approve more money being spent on the leisure centre works. It was voted for unanimously by councillors.

As of last month, there has been almost 3,000 tonnes of grout pumped into the void.

Retired chartered engineer Stanley Mackintosh campaigned against the site being used for the leisure centre due to the gypsum issues.

A decision to build on the site was taken by Harrogate Borough Council, which was abolished last year to make way for the new unitary authority.

Mr Mackintosh told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the ground stabilisation works has become a literal example of a “sunk cost fallacy” for the council.

Speaking earlier this month, North Yorkshire Council’s Conservative executive member for leisure, Cllr Simon Myers said: 

“It is disappointing that the overall project is now estimated at £8.5million but we believe Ripon deserves good quality leisure facilities.

“If we had decided not to proceed with the stabilisation works and looked to move the leisure centre side of the operation to another area, we would have had the pool and leisure centre in separate locations which is not only more costly for us to operate, but also not the best option for customers either.”

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