Work may not start until early 2020 on a mothballed Aberdeen pool shut for more than a year.
The refurbishment of Northfield Pool, which has been closed for the last year and a half, was announced to great fanfare by Aberdeen City Council’s ruling administration in March 2018.
But in a letter seen by the Evening Express, Steve Whyte, Aberdeen City Council’s director of resources, revealed the project will “move towards” a start within the current financial year, which could mean work beginning as late as March 2020.
Concerns have been raised over the delays to the project with claims the local community is “extremely disappointed” by the way the matter has been handled.
Mr Whyte adds that officers are currently working with Sport Aberdeen on an options appraisal, which will lead to a preferred option being chosen to form the basis of a business case to be submitted to the council in September.
Aberdeen Donside MSP Mark McDonald said: “I was assured that early 2019 would see significant focus on completing the business case required, with a view to the matter proceeding through the governance process.
“The latest reply received from Aberdeen City Council would suggest that the business case won’t be submitted until September at the earliest, meaning it could be the beginning of 2020 before work begins, and possibly into 2021 before the pool is reopened for the community to use.
“I have received a considerable amount of correspondence from constituents on this issue, and despite the extended period of closure already endured, Aberdeen City Council has yet to set out a timescale for completion.
“The local community are extremely disappointed by the way this has been handled, and understandably feel very let down by this whole process.”
In his letter, Mr Whyte said: “The options identified vary in scale with each having different lead-in times and construction periods.
“It is therefore difficult to provide indicative timescales, without the preferred option being identified.
“The approval of the business case and project budget in September is a significant milestone for the project.
“From that it is anticipated that the project will move towards a start on site within the current financial year.”
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The facility was closed in March 2018 after technical and electrical problems, with a planned revamp announced in the ruling Conservative, Aberdeen Labour and independent administration’s budget that same month.
Aberdeen City Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden said: “As part of the budget process Aberdeen City Centre committed over £1m to redevelop Northfield pool.
“We are awaiting a decision from Sport Aberdeen on what their contribution will be.
“This level of investment is required after years of neglect by previous SNP/Lib Dem administrations. We remain firmly committed to Northfield pool and look forward to its reopening.”
MP for Aberdeen North Kirsty Blackman said: “Northfield Pool is very clearly not a priority of the Tory and Labour coalition administration, which has been in control of the council for more than seven years now.
“For work to only maybe be set to start two years after the facility was closed is just not good enough, and it is such a let-down for the community of Northfield to have to wait even longer for an administration that has been dragging its heels for years on this issue.”