THE swimming pool at the Link Centre will not reopen for at least six months after major structural problems were found to be worse than first thought.
Swindon Council announced yesterday the popular leisure centre pool has now been earmarked to open on February 11 next year, following meetings with specialist contractors over structural problems discovered during re-tiling work.
The facility, which was built in the mid-80s, was expected to be closed for only six weeks and set to re-open next Monday, but after removing the old tiles, contractors found cracks in the concrete ducts around the pool, severely corroded pipework and problems with the render surfaces of the walls, among other problems.
Councillor Keith Williams , Swindon Borough Council cabinet member for leisure and strategic transport, said: “The length of the delay before re-opening is very disappointing, and we’re sorry it’s going to be so long.”
The original cost of the re-tiling work, which began at the end of July, was £75,000, but it is unclear how much the extra work will cost, while a council spokesman admitted the centre would also suffer a loss of revenue. Repairs are also being carried out on the ageing centre’s roof for around £1m.
The pool usually attracts between 9,000 and 12,000 swimmers every month and the news is sure to come as a blow to casual swimmers and swimming clubs alike, with those who have events booked being advised to find alternative venues.
Lesley Leffers, head coach at Tigersharks Swimming Club, who face losing 60 hours a month in pool time, said: “It is a hugely long time for us and we are in a very difficult position now. We are not sure what to do.
“It is the inconvenience of rescheduling the whole programme and if we have learnt anything it is we should not have all our eggs in one basket. It will cost us a lot more in terms of water time, travel and time.
“But the borough have found us a lot of water time elsewhere and we are thankful for that. We have to stay positive and not let our head drop for the children.”
Coun Williams (Con, Shaw) said: “When the work started we had no reason to believe it wasn’t simply a straightforward re-tiling job, but what has since been discovered is serious and it’s going to take time to put right.
“Clearly, next February is a long way off, but it’s a realistic date and will allow all the work to be done properly. We didn’t want to hope for the best and give an earlier date which then might have slipped, leaving users such as clubs and schools no time to re-organise events.”
Alternative venues include the council pools at Highworth and Dorcan recreation centres and the Health Hydro in Milton Road, along with other independently-run pools.
Residents and groups who need further information or advice about alternatives can contact the Link Centre on 01793 465461.