Beds, Herts & Bucks

Dunstable £20.1m leisure centre re-opening delayed

Sign on Dunstable Centre
Image caption The Dunstable Centre was due to open in winter 2018/2019, then March and now it is set to open in May

A £20.1m redeveloped leisure centre will open but without a working swimming pool after tiling problems were discovered.

Central Bedfordshire Council said "quality assurance checks" had indentified the issue at the Dunstable Centre.

It confirmed the centre would open in May, instead of "winter 2018/2019", and the pool about six months later.

The delays have been described as a "shambles" by local residents.

Steven Watkins, deputy executive member for community services at the council, said contractors confirmed the wrong adhesive was used for the pool and would pay for the cost of removing the tiles and re-gluing them.

Ongoing investigation

It was hoped the pool would reopen by the end of the year, said Mr Watkins, a Conservative.

The council said an investigation into what happened was ongoing and a cause had yet to be found.

"The old pool was stripped right back when it was renovated, and then screed was applied to create layers, ahead of the tiles being attached," said a spokeswoman.

"There is something in that overall process that has affected how the new pool tiles are adhering, which doesn't meet our quality assurance standards."

The centre will house Dunstable's library, which closed on 22 December, as well as an upgraded gym, leisure facilities, creche, cafe and Citizens Advice offices.

Image copyright Central Bedfordshire Council
Image caption The Dunstable Centre in Court Drive will include a new library, health and fitness suite, sports hall, cafe, day care accommodation and Citizens Advice offices

A number of people have taken to the council's Facebook page to air their frustrations at the delays.

One local resident, Westley Hayes, described the news as "a shambles and a disappointment" and questioned how checks were not carried out "periodically throughout the install".

Another user said they were "hugely disappointed", with another saying: "Good job they didn't shut the library down yet... oh wait a minute."

Addressing the swimming pool problems, a council spokeswoman said: "Clearly this is very frustrating, and whilst we are looking at every possible option to improve on this forecast delay, it is important that we investigate the tiling issues thoroughly and properly resolve them with the building contractor."

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