Handling of Sunderland Aquatic Centre leak branded '˜mismanaged farce' as concerns continue over £20million building

The handling of a failing £20million sports centre building has been branded a 'mismanaged farce' as the ability of city leaders is called into question.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 28 August, 2018, 06:00
Sunderland Aquatic Centre, which was built at a cost of £20 million.

Sunderland City Council’s Conservative members have said they do not have confidence in the Labour-led authority to ensure Sunderland Aquatic Centre is kept up to standard.

It comes after the Echo revealed the council and Balfour Beatty, which constructed the Olympic-size swimming pool, gym and exercise studios just a decade ago, have come to an out of court settlement over its leaking roof.Talks are now under way to arrange the construction firm to carry out repairs, which will mean the Stadium Park centre could close for up to nine months.

Conservative Councillor Antony Mullen.

Councillor Antony Mullen, a Conservative member for the Barnes ward, said: “The aquatic centre has faced problem after problem since it opened, first with the hole in the floor and subsequently with the diving pool.

“The current issue with the roof does not give us confidence that the centre is being properly managed by the council.

“To the public, the centre appears to be a waste of money and a mismanaged farce.

“The public and the groups that use the centre need clarity about what problems it faces, what plan there is to resolve them and by what date.

Sunderland Aquatic Centre's 50m pool.

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“The current issue has dragged on far too long and, as usual, it is shrouded in secrecy.

“We also expect clarity from the city’s Labour administration that the centre is still under guarantee and that local taxpayers’ money is not going to be used to fund the repairs.”

The centre, which is run on behalf of the council by Everyone Active, also recently suffered the failure of showers on the north side of the building after a “severe leak” in the tank used to supply hot water.

The firm which supplied the original tank now out of business, with the fault repaired after three weeks.

Sunderland Aquatic Centre as it was being built in the shadow of the Stadium of Light in 2007.

Councillor Paul Stewart, cabinet secretary for the council, said: “Before diving in with his remarks, Coun Mullen might want to note the council’s recent statement how Balfour Beatty will be carrying out a programme of works on the roof at Sunderland Aquatic Centre.

“And, how further details and dates will follow.”

Customers of the centre expressed their disappointment after hearing the complex was in need of repairs after only a decade of service.Balfour Beatty said it was “unable to provide further details at this stage” when contacted by the Echo.