Yearsley Pool decision on 12th January

A Council scrutiny committee will decide on 12th January whether to undertake a public review of Labour’s plan to withdraw the Yearsley Pool’s £250,000 a year subsidy.

Yearsley Pool

Yearsley Pool

LibDem councillors have proposed that a review begin straight away giving managers the maximum time possible to find alternative sources of income and savings prior to the summer 2016 cut off date.

The early review has the backing of the Yearsley Pool Action Group which has submitted a 4,500 signature petition supporting the retention of the pool.

Although the Council had agreed to hold talks in early 2016 about the future of the pool, these would be held in private. They would also have presumed that no ongoing subsidy would be available.

One of the factors bedevilling the process is that with Council elections in May, it is likely that the majority of existing Councillors will not be re-elected to the new authority (many have said that they are standing down).

As the decisions of the present Council cannot bind the new one, priorities are likely to change.

Both LibDem and Tory Councillors have said that they want to move resources away from prestige projects preferring instead to improve funding for basic public services. These would include existing leisure facilities.

In 2007, the last LibDem Council invested over £1 million in upgrades to the Yearsley pool. It was expected that this would give the pool a life of over 20 years before additional investment was required.

In January 2011, before coming to power, Labour began to question the future of the facility.

York swimming pools usage was increasing

Yearsley still second most popular facility in City

Waterworld - closed by the York Council this month

Waterworld – closed by the York Council this month

Figures released today, by the York Council under Freedom of Information legislation, cast further doubts on the wisdom of jettisoning the Yearsley swimming pool.

The figures reveal that last year Yearsley had 118,611 users compared to 110,231 at Waterworld (which has now been closed by the Council) and the new York Sports Village.

The latter, in its first full year of operation, had 110,218 customers making it the least popular swimming facility in the City.

Swimming pool attendances and subsidy costs Click to enlarge

Swimming pool attendances and subsidy costs Click to enlarge

The new pool does, however, seem to have attracted some additional customers as total swims in the City (excluding private and school based pools) rose from 508,125 in 2012/13 to 522,65 last year.

The figures also reveal that swimming receives a £1/2 million subsidy each year from taxpayers. That is relatively modest comparison to historical investment levels.

While Yearsley is the most expensive pool to operate, it doesn’t enjoy any cross subsidy from other activities – like fitness and studio work – which accounted for most of the income at the other pool sites.

Without the cooperation of Nestle, who own the surrounding land, it would be impossible to increase the range of sports catered for at the Yearsley site.

All in all, closing both Waterworld and Yearsley and replacing the facilities with a single – sports village style clone pool – does increasingly seem to be a major misjudgement by the Council.

Residents are clearly looking for a wider range of water activities and locations in the City.

Stadium will cost Council Taxpayers £1 million a year

Huntington project administration costs hit £6 million

More details of the changes to the Huntington Community Stadium project have emerged. The papers reveal the administration and project team costs for the project have increased from £3.5 million to £6 million.Stadium Project

The Council will borrow a total of £8 million, meaning that local taxpayers will have to find £720,000 a year in debt charges. In addition the Council will contribute £323,000 towards the annual running costs.

The report talks about a developer paying £12 million for land on which to construct 6000 square metres of retail and commercial space.

This space would be used for

  • Retail units totalling 4245 sq m
  • Two restaurants totalling 110 sq m
  • A digital cinema with bar totalling 1652 sq m

There are numerous risks identified for the project.

The land was originally acquired by the Ryedale Council for leisure purposes. There may be at least a chance that the original owners will seek a share of any enhanced value resulting from commercial development.

Equally the inclusion of – yet more – out of City centre retail development will be controversial.

This is the issue most likely to delay the granting of planning permission and could result in the application being “called in” by central government. In turn, this would impact on the target start (April 2015) and completion (July 2016) dates.

The Council don’t rule out a Judicial Review – a process initiated by opponents of change and which added, in the last decade, nearly 2 years to the timetable for modernising the Barbican auditorium.

A 15 month construction commissioning timetable looks highly ambitious anyway.

Less obvious risks may arise. Not least the ubiquitous Great Crested Newts who mounted a strong resistance to being evicted from the neighbouring John Lewis site.

The report confirms that

GLL will be responsible for the overall management of the site and the direct management of the Community Hub, leisure facilities and associated assets. This will be controlled by an overarching lease and management contract for a 13 year period with a 5 year extension option.

As part of the procurement process, GLL have appointed York City Football Club (YCFC) as a sub-contractor to operate the stadium area. YCFC will work with CGC (York Racecourse hospitality company).

The proposal will involve changes to the existing parking and access arrangements. This will see the re-routing of Kathryn Avenue around the stadium, creating a pedestrian only and fan zone, strengthening links with the Vanguard retail scheme

The report also says that “All community hub tenants will enter into lease agreements with CYC for the use of the facilities. All leases have been set at appropriate commercial rates”.

The report includes a table showing how costs have increased over the last couple of years

Component Approved March 2012(£Ms) Approved Nov 2012(£Ms) Proposed Sept 2014(£Ms)
Community Stadium 14.2 14.8 16
Leisure Complex 0 0 12
External works 1.5 1.45 3
NSLC sub total 15.7 15.25 31
Other facilities / Project costs & contingencies 3.5 3.95 6
Total 19.2 19.2 37
Commercial Development Costs (externally funded) 10
Gross Total Cost 19.2 19.2 47

Fitness swimming initiative in York

healthy swimming

City of York Council’s HEAL (Health, Exercise, Activity and Lifestyle) programme is introducing a new 6 week course of swimming sessions at Yearsley Pool starting on Thursday 12 June from 2.30pm to 3.15pm.

Welcome Back to the Pool is aimed specifically at people who can swim, or could in the past, but through illness, injury or life changing event may now lack the confidence to get back in the pool.

Swimming has some great health benefits for those returning to exercise. This is another example of a practical session to help encourage regular physical activity amongst residents needing support.

Swim Britain launched at Energise


David Williams and Kerianne Payne

David Williams and Kerianne Payne

Energise is encouraging York residents to get back in the water this summer for British Gas SwimBritain 2014.

Supported by a host of big-name swimmers including fellow London 2012 medallists Ellie Simmonds, Michael Jamieson, Rebecca Adlington, Keri Anne Payne and comedian David Walliams, SwimBritain is a series of fun team relays that are taking place this September which hopes to inspire 500,000 people across Britain to swim more regularly – and get fit!

Swimmers can take the challenge in 2 ways.

SwimBritain1000 is a four-person relay where each team member swims 250m four times around a specially-designed course in a dedicated 50m pool.

SwimBritain500 is a shorter distance where team members use the same course, swimming half the distance (125m four times) and the nearest participating venue to York is Ponds Ford in Sheffield.

Rebecca Adlington, who retired from competitive swimming at the age of 23 last year as Britain’s most successful swimmer, said: “I may have retired from professional swimming but I will always love being in the water and a challenge like British Gas SwimBritain is brilliant as it’s really inclusive – not just for professional swimmers. Swimming offers everyone a full range of health and fitness benefits so the more people we can encourage to swim regularly, the better. It’s a full body workout without any stress on the joints. A gentle half hour swim can burn up to 200 calories, so I’d love to see as many people as possible joining in and giving SwimBritain a go.”

Swimfit at Energise costs £3.85 for adults with a York Card and £4.80 without. There is no need to book in advance.

Registrations are now open. For further information on venues, how to sign up your team and get training plans and tips, visit