The Sports Hall should be built - 30th January 2008

Sometimes, one wonders whether, if Ryedale is given the chance to choose between two controversial decisions, one of them obviously right and the other obviously wrong, Ryedale will invariably make the wrong choice. This is what happened at the Council meeting of 17th January.


The choice was between a sports centre or an enterprise centre, even though officers had advised that both could be built.


The campaign for a dry sports centre has been going on for nearly 30 years. The enterprise centre project was not even thought of until a few years ago. The most appropriate place for an enterprise centre would be on a brown field site, but insteads, Ryedale included it in a private developer’s proposal to build a business park at Eden House Road on reclaimed agricultural land.


This would not have been so bad, in principle, if the site was going to have a separate access and a roundabout, and would not create land drainage problems. Instead, the proposals include no roundabout, and access is to be from a spur of the small stretch of road which leads to Eden Camp from the A169. People who use the Pickering road will be familiar with the volume of traffic generated by visitors to Eden Camp,  Flamingoland and Pickering’s attractions (including the North York Moors Railway) and other places, and you don’t have to be a genius to realise what is going to happen in terms of traffic congestion.


As regards land drainage, it is understood that the site is drained by a pipe which passes underneath the A64 and discharges into drainage channels in Old Malton. Now you don’t have to be a genius to imagine the likely impact, in terms of flooding, of converting  25 acres of farmland  into 25 acres of concrete – particularly, if one has seen the flood water created by springs and runoff, when the River Derwent rose last week.


It would have been easy to refuse this planning application, because it is against local plan policy: yet Ryedale has decided to ask the Government Office to authorise this departure from policy. Why? Because the Enterprise Centre is tied into this site.


So, what about the Sports Centre? The campaign for this has been going on for years. In 1999 the Conservatives had opposed this, at a time when it would have qualified for an 80% lottery grant. Now the overall cost to the Council exceeds £3M and there is no lottery grant.


 Over the last four years, it looked as though all political groups were agreed to get the sports centre built. The Conservative last election address said nothing about a sports hall, and they had joined in the various working parties and committee meetings set up before the last election with a view to getting it built. Numerous consultants’ reports were obtained, and these all favoured a shared use dry sports hall at Malton School. Then, at the meeting on 17th January, without warning and against all  advice, the Conservative group voted together against the project.


The meeting ended just before midnight.  One item that needed challenging was Ryedale’s in principle agreement with the Environment Agency’s proposals to block drains, create river meanders and abandon flood defences. Now that the main items had been dealt with, closure motions were being used to limit discussion on all matters, and I narrowly missed my opportunity. I asked for standing orders to be suspended to allow me to raise the matter, but members refused. Getting home was more important than the flooding issue!


What a way to run a council!



Privacy Policy