There are calls for more transparency around the closure of the Olympia swimming pools in Dundee – after bosses confirmed they will remain closed until at least December.
The pools – which only opened eight years ago – have been shut since October 13 due to what was initially described as a lighting problem.
Since then operator Leisure and Culture Dundee has issued several updates confirming delays to the reopening of the facilities as contractors carry out work.
But on Wednesday it confirmed that “various items of plant and equipment” are needed for the “planned upgrading and refurbishment works” – and that it requires the approval of councillors to proceed.
That means the venue will be shut until at least December 6, when the relevant committee meets, but could remain closed beyond that while the work is carried out.
Olympia operator refuses to answer key questions
The Courier put various questions to Leisure and Culture Dundee on Wednesday around the nature of the issues, the timescale for repairs and the potential cost.
In response, a spokesman said: “These are all reasonable questions that will be answered in December as per the statement.”
Now the operator is facing calls for more information to be released in advance of December’s meeting.
Councillor Richard McCready, Scottish Labour councillor for the West End, said: “I’m not prepared to wait until the next committee meeting for answers on what’s happened.
“This has gone on for far too long and we need to have clarity.
“They need to be telling the people of Dundee what’s going on.
“We need more transparency here.”
His calls have been echoed by Broughty Ferry Scottish Conservative councillor Philip Scott.
He told The Courier: “I understand not wanting to go into all the technical details but we need a wee bit more information about what’s going on.
“If you don’t give as much information as you can, people are going to be left in the dark.
“It’s important for councillors and – more importantly – the public to be kept informed about these things.
“We all need to be kept in the loop.”
The lack of information has also left users of the pool frustrated.
Responding to the latest statement, David Haig, head coach at Dundee City Aquatics, said: “It is a real challenge for DCA in the short and medium term.
“We have been working over the last month or so in complete uncertainty, and today’s announcement does not provide the clarity we hoped for.
“Swimming opportunity across our squads has been severely curtailed. Our divers have had no pool time at all, and senior athletes, some competing at a very high level, who have worked so hard since return after Covid, have lost about 70% of our pool access.
“It is challenging to keep them motivated at times to achieve their best.”
Despite the ongoing problems at the facility, a source has told The Courier that there are no plans to keep the pools shut in the longer-term.
£31.5m ‘centrepiece’ opened to fanfare in 2013
The Olympia opened in June 2013 at a cost of £31.5 million, including £3m from sportscotland.
The centre, on East Whale Lane, was built as a replacement for the old swimming pool – which stood on the site now occupied by the V&A.
The previous building was knocked down to make way for the museum as part of the redevelopment of the Waterfront.
At the time, Dundee City Council boasted of an adaptable 50-metre competition pool, a wave pool, rapid river, dive pool, flumes and a fitness suite as being among its facilities.
Councillor Ken Guild, then council leader, described it as a “centrepiece of a massive investment programme” in sport in the city.
He added: “I am sure that everyone will agree that this magnificent new Olympia has been worth the wait.”
In 2014 the pools closed for five weeks for maintenance work, just over a year after they had opened, including a deep clean and the installation of new drying equipment for swimming costumes.
Dundee City Aquatics described that closure as “quite a setback”.
In 2016 it emerged that doors at the Olympia had been out of action after breaking for a total of 45 days since the centre had opened.
The pools were then forced into a months-long closure when the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March 2020.