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Published by the Society in the Ripon Gazette, 2nd January 2009
David Winpenny, Chairman of Ripon Civic Society, looks forward to the New Year with the Society’s resolutions

Ripon Civic Society starts 2009 with – yes, resolutions, but more than that; with determination. Here are nine things we’d like to see make real progress in 2009:

1 Making the Market Square free of traffic. Yes, we’ve said it before, but people are really starting to see the sense of it. There is real determination to get something going towards meeting this goal. It could really move the city into a new gear for both business and tourism. Let’s get to work on it!

2 Getting a Park and Ride. It’s the best option for sorting out parking in the city; put long-term parking on the periphery of the city, and run small buses into the centre. The buses would help visitors by linking the disparate sights, provide easy access for everyone – and make the short-stay car parks nearer the centre more readily available for people who really need them.

3 Saving the Spa Baths. This, of course, has been one of our main campaigns for the past year – it is almost exactly 12 months since Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) stunned the city with its ill-thought-out proposals to sell off the Baths building in Park Street for housing to fund a new pool on Camp Close. In the face of much local opposition, HBC backpedalled, saying that housing is the last resort for the site – yet still have moved at breakneck speed to get planning permission. We, along with others, will continue to press for a solution that saves the building for public use.

4 Having the Cabmen’s Shelter restored. It was 10 years ago yesterday, on 1 January 1999, that Ripon City Council took over ownership of this structure from Ripon Civic Society, undertaking in writing to maintain it. Since then it has been used briefly for the distribution of leaflets (and marred with boards being screwed inside the windows) and has had a large board showing the mayor’s parking space attached to it. Otherwise, it has been left to deteriorate. We should hear any day about whether it is to be a Listed Building, but even if that fails, the Shelter needs immediate work, please!

5 Seeing an end to clutter. Another topic that has exercised this column over the last year has been the proliferation of poles and other street furniture that clutters our streets. It still continues – look at the number of new poles and signs that have been erected in connection with Marshall Way. We have had some success in getting the posts that appeared outside a Georgian house in Park Street removed, but much more can be done if the Highways planners and others would think rationally.

6 Highlighting the footpaths. Ripon has a great network of footpaths around the city. Locals know all about them, but how many visitors do? We hope to initiate a scheme that gives visitors the chance to explore them, perhaps with simple waymarking and leaflets. They should be encouraged to stop in Ripon and walk to Fountains Abbey or to Markenfield Hall, for example.

7 A cinema – and more – for Ripon. This has been talked about for a long time, and plans have been drawn up, but nothing has so far emerged. The Civic Society is keen to see some progress and will work with anyone who can help to make it a reality – perhaps as a multi-purpose hall that can also be used as a performance venue, too. We have not forgotten our original suggestion of a cinema at the Spa Baths!

8 A railway link for Ripon. Yes, this is further down the line (sorry!) but that doesn’t mean it should not be an aim. Recent petrol price rises showed briefly how vulnerable we are to costs of running our own vehicles; it is bound to recur. There are also sound environmental arguments for using trains rather than cars. So we should be thinking seriously about getting Ripon back on track!

9 Increasing the Civic Society’s membership. This is not just a hope for the Society, but for the city. The more members we have, and the more active you are, the more influence we can have on the people who make the decisions about the place we live in. Please think about joining; as well as making your voice heard, you’ll have the chance to come to our monthly talks on interesting subjects, to come on visits (we have one to Lancaster planned for the summer, for example) and to receive our lively newsletter three times a year. We look forward to welcoming you.

Happy New Year!

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