Future of Hugh Ripley Hall

UNCERTAINTY over the future of Ripon’s Hugh Ripley Hall has prompted city councillors to seek written clarification from Harrogate council over its intentions for the facility.

The community venue on Skellbank was discussed at a city council meeting on Monday when Coun Charlie Powell (Ind) raised concerns that the hall was anticipated to lose £8,800 in 2011/12 and again in 2012/13 and how this could be addressed.

Fears for Hugh Ripley Hall’s future were raised when it appeared on a list of assets owned by Harrogate Borough Council as the local authority prepared for an eventual £1.7m cut in funding from central Government, with proposals published in January to make the hall unavailable for mid-year bookings to reduce losses.

Coun Alan Skidmore (Con), who is also a member of the borough council’s overview and scrutiny commission, said during detailed discussions with the relevant parties from Harrogate he was told the venue would not be closed down in this financial year and rules and regulations prevented its disposal.

He added: “I know there are discussions for it to be used for more community activities.”

Coun Pauline McHardy (Ind) said the city council needed to ensure the facility’s long-term survival.

“I think we have all got to protect Hugh Ripley Hall from closure, not just this year but every year because I can’t think of any other venue of that size in Ripon,” she said.

“Harrogate has plenty and we have got to have ours too.”

A proposal to write to Harrogate Borough Council to seek clarification on its position over the facility received unanimous backing from the 15 city councillors.