ESTON BATHS: Cost of repairs put at almost £3m
The quoted cost of repairs to a swimming pool building which has been closed since last summer has gone up £1.2m after a fresh report commissioned by council chiefs.
Previously another assessment led the council to state essential repairs aimed at getting the building back into a usable condition would cost £1.7m.
The inspection by Stockton-based engineering consultancy Billinghurst George & Partners found that “significant deterioration” of the building had taken place over the years and “substantial works” would be necessary to refurbish the pool building.
It highlighted cracking and movement to external walls and said the roof was in a poor condition, while concluding that the cost and limited design life of any repairs meant it might be more feasible to demolish the building and construct a new one.
There has been a long running row between the ruling administration and the opposition Labour group over the future of the pool, while Redcar MP Conservative Jacob Young has stated it’s time Greater Eston residents had a new facility altogether.
More than 2,500 people have signed an online petition calling for the council to repair and re-open the pool.
Meanwhile, a Labour motion is to be heard by the full council at a meeting on Thursday asking the authority to agree to do the necessary repairs to get the baths open again without further delay, recognising that this would be a short-term solution.
It also calls for work to immediately start to provide a new Eston swimming baths that is “fit for the future”.
South Bank ward councillor Sue Jeffrey, who has proposed the motion, said she had requested a copy of the new report and accused the council of “incompetence” in its approach to date.
She said: “If the [repair] bill is too big we need to see the reason why people think it is too big.
“At the moment we are being given inconclusive reports which don’t propose a way forward.
“It is not fair on the people of Eston who want to see the baths open as soon as possible to treat something as important as this in the way the council are doing.”
Cllr Jeffrey added that a “generation” of children risked missing out on being able to learn to swim at the baths while it remained closed.
The plant room at the 60-year-old baths has flooded three times over the past 12 years and the council estimates repairs and maintenance over this period, including spending on flood damage, has cost £2.53m.
Councillor Steve Kay, cabinet member for health, housing and welfare, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that a cheaper solution was previously being looked at which involved moving the plant room.
He said: “This report says there are a lot more things wrong with the building and even if we spend £3m it could not be guaranteed beyond a few years.
“The likelihood is we won’t repair the new baths and will be looking to build a new one.
“We want to make a sensible decision which is fair to council taxpayers’ and those that use the baths.
“We wanted the facts as to the state of the baths – this goes into everything, not just the flooding element.”
Cllr Kay added: “We do have options, but I would think the way forward is to close the existing baths and to as quickly as possible to build a new baths.
“We have to make hard choices and you have to remember the baths have been closed since last June.
“We don’t do these things with our eyes closed, we had a site meeting there recently and everybody agreed the place looked absolutely dilapidated and shoddy.”
A spokesman for the council said the report would be considered by cabinet members in June when the details contained within it would be available and discussed.
Words: Stuart Arnold, Local Democracy Reporter
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