Men-only sessions to return to Harrogate's Turkish Baths?

Harrogate's Turkish Baths.
Harrogate's Turkish Baths.

The mist on a long-running controversy over the axing of men-only sessions at Harrogate’s gorgeous Victorian Turkish Baths looks to be clearing finally with a possible change of heart by the council.

Harrogate Borough Council is considering the reintroduction of a weekly men-only bathing session at the Turkish Baths from next month.

It follows a dogged five-year campaign by Harrogate resident Peter Lilley who claimed the council’s decision to scrap the century-old tradition of men-only bathing in December 2011 while continuing to allow seven (now six) weekly women-only sessions was “blatantly discriminatory.”

The key moment will take place when a lengthy review of the Turkish Baths is submitted to the Cabinet Member for Culture & Sport, Coun Stanley Lumley tomorrow, Thursday, August 18.

Welcoming the possible changes, Mr Lilley of Valley Drive, Harrogate, said: “It’s a step in the right direction but it still means men are being discriminated against.

“I think there’s a lot of questions which remain unanswered about why the council made the original decisions and how they’ve handled my complaints since then.”

Mr Lilley’s campaign included three Freedom of Information requests, a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman and lengthy correspondence with the council’s chief executive Wallace Sampson.

The new report by the council is recommending that one men-only bathing session should be reintroduced per week.

Mr Lilley said this was less than the three sessions a week which previously existed.

In addition, it is likely the men-only sessions will return for a one year trial period only while the council monitors its popularity.