Panel to investigate why Aireborough Leisure Centre refurb was ’16 months overdue'

A Leeds City Council committee is set to look into why the refurbishment of a  council-run swimming pool took more than a year longer than expected to complete.

Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 11:45 am

Members of the authority’s health scrutiny board heard this week heard how Aireborough Leisure Centre in Guiseley’s planned reopening date of May 2018 was put back twice before it eventually opened its doors in September 2019.

A letter was sent to the board by local council members requesting an inquiry into why it took so long.

One of the letter’s signatories, Coun Graham Latty (Con), addressed the board today (Tuesday).

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Aireborough Leisure Centre in 2018 (Pic: Google)

Coun Latty (Con) told the meeting: “We are happy with the way it is run.

“We were told at the beginning that the pool would be re-tiled, the changing rooms would be upgraded, it was going to be the bees knees. It was, all in all, a jolly good thing, and we were thrilled to bits at the prospect.”

He told the meeting that the timescale of the works was “a concern”, adding the facility closed for refurbishment in November 2016, with a planned opening date of May 2018. That was postponed until June 2019, before another postponement and eventual opening date of September 28, 2019.

He added: “The public expected in May 18 to have a fully functioning leisure centre and we didn’t get it until 18 months later. It’s an old building and they knew there was asbestos in it. They removed it, then got on with the work.

“They then found more asbestos, which had to be removed.

“There were leaks in the roof that had to be repaired, then the big slab roof had a crack in it, so they had to strengthen it.

“The initial assessment of it, the procurement and the project management, we feel, left an awful lot to be desired. It felt to us like they were going from problem to problem.”

Fellow Guiseley councillor Pat Latty (Con), another signatory of the letter, added: “We had an awful lot of flak from residents. One of the things is that the schools thought they were going to get back to their swimming lessons but it went on and on.

“It should have been closed at the beginning for them to look properly at the buildings.”

Coun Helen Hayden (Lab), who chairs the committee, said: “It didn’t come into my mind when it was shut about all the kids who learn to swim there.

“Eighty five percent of children learn to swim in a council pool – that’s a big chunk – and this has wider implications for the whole area.”

The committee voted to agreed to investigate the issue. A report is expected back at the committee in the next few months.