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Dundee Olympia swimming pools could be closed until late 2022 for £4.5m repairs

The Olympia has been shut since October.
The Olympia has been shut since October.

The Olympia swimming pools in Dundee could be closed until late 2022 because the facility needs repairs worth £4.5 million.

The pools closed in October after an issue was discovered with light fittings.

It has now emerged that other work is needed – including a replacement of the flumes – meaning the facility could remain shut for more than a year.

Work is set to get under way early next year and is likely to take about 45 weeks to complete, meaning the pools will likely remain closed until late 2022.

The flumes at the Olympia need replaced.

The issues have been discovered less than a decade after the £32m facility was built.

News of the extended closure has sparked outrage among those in the local swimming community.

Dundee City Aquatics is based at the Olympia and has been drastically impacted by the closure lasting over six weeks already.

Head coach David Haig says he is shocked by the announcement.

He said: “This is far worse news than we were expecting, and a devastating blow to the swimming, diving and water polo community in Dundee and areas around who rely on the facility.

“The complex chain of events in my opinion starts with a very poorly build facility that has been rusting from almost the outset, and hugely inadequate structural maintenance.

“A three month shutdown has been promised for over three years, but never initiated.

‘Dundee losing a generation of athletes’

“We run the risk in Dundee of losing a generation of athletes who will give up, walk away, and never return due to this issue.

“So far LACD (Leisure and Culture Dundee) have not done anything to support clubs and organisations, despite this being promised at the initial closure.

“I fear for the future of our clubs and athletes.

Gordon Currie, president of Perth City Swim Club, said: “The latest information suggesting Olympia could be closed for a year is a devastating blow for the whole of the Tayside swimming community.

“Olympia is the central competition venue for the area, so its loss will be massively disruptive to all of the clubs who rely on it to host our Midland District galas.

Upset at level of disruption

“We feel especially upset for our friends at Dundee City Aquatics, who have used Olympia as their main training base since it opened.

“Having lost Perth Leisure Pool for over a year due to flooding, we know only too well ourselves how hard it is to keep going amid that level of disruption.

“Pool time is already at a premium in this area due to a lack of forward planning and investment and this second major closure in a row will have a knock-on effect for years to come.”

olympia closed
The Olympia pools are used by several local clubs.

Councillor Michael Marra has criticised the move and has called for an independent inquiry.

He said: “Two weeks ago the leader of the SNP administration called demands for an independent inquiry ‘absurd’.

“That position has aged poorly in a very short period of time. Taxpayers now face a bill of in excess of £4m for a building opened only eight years ago.

“To desperately try and spin this as normal, as the SNP administration has done, today is deeply irresponsible.

Calls for an independent inquiry

He added: “An independent inquiry is now a necessity. Dundee tax payers must have the option of getting money back from the bill they paid to construct Olympia.

“This building has been bedevilled with flaws since before it even opened.

“Dundee families will be aghast. The Olympia is hugely popular and helps to subsidise other facilities.

“The SNP administration must outline the impact on the Leisure & Culture budget and ensure other facilities are protected from the knock on effect.”

‘Bedevilled with flaws’

Mark Flynn, convener of the city development committee, said: “The Olympia has been open for more than eight years and while that may not seem long, this is a facility that has long operational hours and high usage in a challenging environment due to the heat, moisture and chemicals to maintain water quality in the pools.

“It will always need periodic replacement of various parts and regular planned maintenance including all health and safety inspections and testing.

Mark Flynn, convener of the council’s city development committee.

“Taken together these circumstances have created a situation where more surveys need to be carried out, as well as refurbishment work that was planned anyway and repairs to parts of the building that were found to be needed as part of the previous inspection process.”

Exact timescales for the work are still to be confirmed.

John Alexander, who heads up the council’s SNP-led administration, said: “Once again, Michael Marra plays fast and loose with the facts.

“I said that calling for an investigation before you have the detail is absurd and it is. It is perfectly reasonable to call for one now he has the facts.

“Far from being spin, this is an officer report which sets out a range of short and medium term repairs.

“Some of these known, others not. I didn’t write the report so any claims of spin are false.

“The old Olympia underwent a yearly shut down to carry out maintenance works, as is commonplace across pools of this nature and we have to remember that this facility is very well, every day.

John Alexander.

“If Michael Marra has qualifications in building inspection and maintenance that he’d like to share, I’m all ears.

“Rather than carry these out on a piece meal approach, the recommendation by the professional officers is that they are carried out in one go.

“Similarly, there was an extended shutdown of Perth Pool which had to deal with a year shut down owing to repairs and flooding.

“Michael Marra was on the board of LACD and so, I would have thought he’d have a better grasp of the facts.

“This will have no impact on LACD, in the sense that the council will cover closure costs as is set out in the agreement between the two organisations.

“The most important thing is that every issue is fixed, quickly and effectively. If Michael has an alternative view, then I’m sure he’ll share that at committee.

“I am not happy about an extended closure either but the alternative is a scatter gun approach which means the Olympia opening and closing over a longer period.

“We have invested in pool infrastructure over many years and with 8 community pools, there is a good spread across Dundee. It isn’t, of course, a replacement for Olympia but worth pointing out.”

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