Northern Ireland

Belfast and Castlereagh councils in battle over Robinson centre

The asbestos was found in an area of the centre not open to the public
Image caption The asbestos was found in an area of the centre not open to the public

A row over Castlereagh's Robinson leisure centre has led to a court battle between two councils on their last day of business.

Just as the new supercouncils prepare to take over, Belfast city council is fighting a legal battle.

The Robinson Centre which is closed because of the discovery of asbestos, will be transferred from Castlereagh to Belfast at midnight.

But Belfast council has won leave for a judicial review of that transfer.

On Tuesday evening, a judge granted the review and also ruled that Belfast would not be liable for any claims prior to 1 April 2015.

Ahead of the hearing, the Robinson Centre and 38 staff will transfer to Belfast as of midnight on Tuesday.

Belfast council believes its ratepayers should not take on the running of a centre which, it claims, is not fit for purpose.

In February, a survey carried out at the Robinson centre found that there was asbestos.

It is that discovery that has led to the wrangle over who should be responsible.

On Tuesday, the environment minister ruled that the Robinson centre and its liabilities should transfer to Belfast council.

But the council want that decision overturned.

Last week Castlereagh council said in a statement that the asbestos was stable and remained undisturbed.

It said air samples showed no members of staff or the public have been or are at risk.

Just over two weeks ago part of the centre was re-opened after they were certified fit for occupation.

The council has been advised that further surveys are not deemed necessary at this stage.

Belfast City Council had asked for a further survey of the building to be carried out but that has been denied.

In a statement on Tuesday evening, the council said: "The Robinson Centre will not open tomorrow [Wednesday] and will be closed indefinitely as Belfast City Council will be carrying out a more detailed survey [as recommended by the initial survey work] as soon as possible so that it could take an informed decision about the future of the centre.

"All staff previously employed by Castlereagh Borough Council are protected by TUPE [transfer of undertakings Protection of employment] and Belfast City Council management and trade unions will take all steps to seek to ensure they suffer no detriment.

"However as there is no operational centre we are not able to place all of them immediately.

"We then will be meeting with all of them individually to discuss work deployments. In the meantime the staff will be paid by Belfast City Council."

Related Topics

More on this story