Still no reopening date for York Railway Institute sports centre

YORK Railway Institute – which has operated in York for more than 100 years – is yet to reopen its popular sports centre post-lockdown.

Four of the five sites run by the charity York RI CIO (Railway Institute – Charitable Incorporated Organisation) have reopened, but the sports centre in Queen’s Street remains closed to members of the public.

Sean Heslop, chair of the trustees at York RI, said that the charity would give an update on the site next week.

He said the site had suffered from a lack of investment in recent years and that the charity is currently in discussions with Network Rail about extending the 20-year lease which concluded last year.

The news comes after residents wrote to York Central MP Rachael Maskell, to highlight their frustration at the lack of information on when the centre would reopen again to members of the public.

A letter from resident Eve Thomas said: “York RI trust states that their core objective is ‘the promotion of community participation in healthy recreation through the provision of facilities for playing sport in the area of York’.”

But she claimed the trust had so far “fobbed off” members who have raised their concerns about the continued closure of the premises.

She added: “York RI is unique for its badminton courts and as such is well used by York’s residents, particularly the over 50s, many of whom used to play three times a week.

“Badminton provides many positive benefits; not least keeping fit but it also provides a social hub to many older residents who live alone.

“This is enormously beneficial to the positive mental well-being of me and many others, in line with the current Government strategy for improving fitness, tackling obesity and improving mental health.”

In a letter to stakeholders, Mr Heslop added: “With the government and national governing bodies’ new regulations and guidelines, the volume of activity that will be allowed will be well below our normal level.

“There will also be increased costs in opening and operating our Queen Street site, so we have our income lowered at a time when our running costs will increase.

“We have been discussing a long lease with Network Rail which should give us the certainty of tenure once the building has been re-developed.

“We have been in discussion with the partners to progress the feasibility of such a development happening.”

He added: “The trustees of York RI CIO need to be confident that we can survive the current Covid-19 situation and the York Station project.”

York Press | News