South Scotland

Dumfries DG One leisure centre membership decline revealed

DG One site
Image caption The DG One site has been hit by a string of problems since it opened eight years ago

The scale of membership decline at a trouble-hit multi-million pound leisure centre has been revealed, with a BBC Freedom of Information request.

Dumfries and Galloway Council declined to release the figures for the DG One site last year during its legal wrangle with builders Kier Construction.

It has now provided details of the membership decrease at the Dumfries centre and its replacement facilities.

They have fallen more than 70% from a peak of 1,415 in 2009 to 387 this year.

A council spokesperson stressed that membership figures were not the same as "actual attendances".

"Since the opening of the temporary facilities in October 2014 both the Loreburn Hall and the temporary pool located at the Ice Bowl have seen an increase in attendances," the spokesperson said.

"The increase in usage demonstrates that we made the right decision to provide these temporary facilities.

"Membership numbers have been a challenge long before DG One closed due to the level of competition from the private sector."

Combined attendance figures for the pool and Loreburn Hall have risen from a little under 37,000 in the first three months they opened to nearly 49,000 in the three months up to June this year.

The FOI request also revealed the total repairs bill for the site, which was forced to close completely in 2014 a little over six years after the £17m facility opened.

The figure for the contract costs of the remedial works is £9,985,685.

Dumfries and Galloway Council declined to reveal the scale of its contribution claiming it would be an "actionable breach of confidence".

It also refused to release any correspondence between the authority and Kier Construction.

The council said it considered that the public interest lay in "maintaining confidentiality between the parties involved" and outweighed the "public interest in disclosure".

A long-running legal wrangle between the two parties over the centre was settled earlier this year to allow major remedial work to begin.

DG One opened to the public in May 2008 but has suffered a string of problems which ultimately led to its complete closure in October 2014.

Temporary gym facilities at the Loreburn Hall and a swimming pool at Dumfries Ice Bowl have been put in place while the centre is closed.

The scale of the work involved means that it is unlikely to reopen until 2018 at the earliest.

The council is about to conclude a contract with McLaughlin and Harvey to carry out the remedial works.

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