Concerns over swimming pool and gym in former Hawes chapel

Hawes Methodist Church before its closure.

Do two local occupancy dwellings in the former Hawes Methodist Chapel need a swimming pool and a gym, councillors asked at the last meeting of Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council.

When they discussed the latest application to convert the old chapel they were concerned about the lack of bin storage, overlooking neighbouring properties, parking, the proposed swimming pool and the gym.

They struggled to understand how a swimming pool and gym were beneficial to two local occupancy dwellings. They wanted to be assured that there weren’t plans to open these to the public in the future.

The chairman, Cllr Jill McMullon, told the meeting that the planning officer had agreed that the comments made at the parish council could be submitted the following day even though that was after the closing date for submissions.  She and other councillors had already submitted their comments.

She said she had told the planning officer: “The swimming pool and gym area have caused a deal of interest and we would like assurances that this is wholly part of a residence and not a commercial operation. A commercial operation would potentially cause concerns to neighbouring property and change the nature of the application.”

North Yorkshire County councillor Yvonne  Peacock pointed out that the YDNPA no longer directly informed parish councils about planning applications and suggested that the clerk checked the Authority’s planning citizens’ portal for such information.

Banking. – It was reported that the parish council had successfully requested an advance on its 2022 precept from Richmondshire District Council because HSBC had taken so long to transfer funds to an account with another bank.

It was reported that only after funds from the district council were transferred to its new account could the parish council pay bills, meet expenses and operate effectively.  And it was only after Cllr Sheila Alderson, an original signatory, visited the HSBC branch in Settle that the situation was resolved

The parish council had decided earlier in the year to open an account with another bank as it was having problems with transacting business with HSBC.

Cllr McMullon said she was utterly appalled at the dreadful level of service offered by HSBC in this situation and was pleased and relieved that the funds had finally been received in the new bank account.

Precept. –  It was agreed that the precept for next year should remain the same as this year’s, being £17.500.

It was acknowledged that the country is still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic and many businesses are struggling. In addition, costs are rising and there is the current energy crisis also putting pressure on families. It was agreed that this was not the time to add an additional burden to households by increasing the precept.

Water works. – It was acknowledged that the work being carried out in the town by Yorkshire Water was necessary but there had been problems for motorists.

Cllr Peacock said she met with representatives of Yorkshire Water during October and asked the company to provide regular updates on its work in Hawes to the Community Office. This, however, had not happened and she would chase the company to do so.

It was emphasised that anyone with concerns about the progress of the work should go to the Community Office.

Cllr McMullon confirmed that Yorkshire Water telephoned every week with an update but acknowledged that good communication was key to the success of this project, ensuring that there was minimal disruption to residents and businesses.

Donations. – It was agreed to donate £250 each to Hawes Youth Club to help with the establishment of regular meetings and Hawes Christmas Lights Committee towards the cost of this year’s display, plus £50 to Upper Wensleydale Benefice towards lighting for the Wensleydale Flag cabinet in St Margaret’s Church,

Cllr Peacock offered to provide a grant of £300 to the Christmas Lights Committee from her county council locality fund.

Play Parks. – After the parish council reapplied to the district council’s play park fund it was informed that grants of £10,000 and £6,672 respectively had been awarded for providing new equipment at Town Foot play area in Hawes and that at Little Ings in Gayle.

The councillors were told that despite these funds there was still likely to be a shortfall in respect of the equipment chosen for each site which will have to be met by the parish council. They agreed, however, that both projects should go ahead as soon as practical.

Anti-social behaviour. – There were reports of anti-social behaviour at and around some properties in Hawes, and of very unpleasant graffiti on the bus shelter in Gayle which was reported to the Police.

In Hawes, it seemed that a group of young men were amusing themselves whilst causing distress to residents, particularly elderly ones. It was agreed North Yorkshire Police should be consulted about this.