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Under £10k spent since 2015 on Arbroath Community Centre roof now needing £450k replacement

Critics say a plan to lay out more than £400,000 for a new roof and lowered ceiling at the now empty Arbroath Community Centre is a waste of money for cash-strapped Angus Council.

Arbroath Community Centre.
Arbroath community centre is surplus to Angus Alive requirements. Image: Graham Brown/DC Thomson

An Arbroath community centre at the centre of a £450,000 spending row has had around just £10,000 spent on its leaking roof in the past eight years.

Arbroath Community Centre lies empty after Angus Alive handed the Marketgate building back to the council to cut costs.

But plans to replace the roof and lower the ceiling of the vast hall have been branded “madness”.

Council chiefs say it will make the centre more attractive to community groups – or a potential purchaser if the authority decides to sell.

But critics claim the £450k cost will never be recouped.

FOI data

A Freedom of Information request has now revealed how much Angus Alive has spent on repairs and maintenance there since the leisure trust came into being in 2015.

The total outlay is £154,261.

However, less than £10k of that figure was on roof works.

It includes:

  • Gutter cleaning 2017 £188
  • Repair/replace missing slates on north gable July 2017 £124
  • Flashing/pointing rear gable October 2017 £1,924
  • Clearing rhones flat roof August 2018 £539
  • Gutter/flat roof cleaning August 2022 £352
  • Strip/re-slate small hip June 2022 £6,517

In addition, £7,015 was spent in June 2021 on investigating overlaying profile sheeting at the gable end of the building.

The council wants to use cash from two separate funds for the six-figure scheme, but has delayed a final decision.

Timeline questions

And it has emerged a detailed roof survey was not carried out by external surveyors until after a deadline for funding bids had passed.

It was also just days before the meeting to discuss the replacement plan.

A Council spokesperson said: “The council’s building inspector carries out inspections of the council’s operational buildings at least every two years.

“Minor roof defects have been picked up during these surveys and actioned through maintenance repair works.

Arbroath community centre closed.
Angus Alive handed back the sandstone building to the council last month. Image: Graham Brown/DC Thomson

“A fully detailed roof survey had not been carried out previously until August 7 and September 22 2023 by external surveyors on behalf of Angus Council.

“This identified that the slate roofed area required overhauling including repairs/replacement of flashings, the main roof sheeting was showing signs of age and deterioration and was reaching the end of its anticipated life expectancy.”

The meeting to discuss the project took place on September 26.

‘More questions than answers’

Brechin Independent Jill Scott said: “This all raises more questions than answers about Arbroath Community Centre.

“Online applications for the Place Based Investment Fund, which part of this money is coming from, had to be completed by July 24.

“So how could that be done if a roof survey wasn’t done until either two, or nearly nine, weeks’ later?

“When we discussed this in September I said it was madness to consider spending that amount of money and all of this convinces me it still is.”

Carnoustie councillor David Cheape also previously baulked at the spend.

He said the planned six-figure outlay would be “on a wish and a prayer”.

“It’s concerning that so little has been spent on the roof of the Community Centre in the last seven years and disproportionately far more on the rest of the building – £150k in total it seems since 2015,” he said.

“And yet council members were being recommended to sanction further spend to now upgrade the roof to allow better community access to the centre.

“Unless this was going to substantially increase the value of this building, then no such money should be spent on it.

“Despite Angus Alive considering the centre as surplus to requirements, if there is supposed interest from community groups in Arbroath to use it then I would suggest it be considered for a Community Asset Transfer.”

Independent Mr Cheape said Carnoustie’s Panmure Centre was an example of what could be done.

It was successfully taken over by Carnoustie & Monifieth Men’s Shed.

“They inherited a building with a roof requiring substantial repairs and have found the means to do so at a fraction of the original cost estimated by the council previously.”