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Extra £280k agreed for Hyde Pool expansion
Monday 17th December 2018 @ 10:04 by Lauren Entwistle

Council bosses have agreed to invest a further quarter of a million pounds to ensure a long delayed expansion to Hyde pool can progress.

By Charlotte Green, local democracy reporter.

Members of Tameside’s executive cabinet opted to increase the budget for the extension of the leisure facility by a further £280k to get a new contractor on board.

The project to build a new six lane swimming pool, changing rooms and spectator seating area has been beset by problems since it was announced more than two years ago.

Work on the Active Hyde extension had been expected to begin in May this year, and the total bill is now estimated at £3.46m – up from the £2m the scheme had been originally expected to cost.

But at Wednesday’s meeting, members said they hoped the extra cash will allow ground to be finally broken – and dispel rumours on social media that the project would not be going ahead.

Deputy council leader, Councillor Bill Fairfoull said: “At this position we’re asking for a sum of money to basically try and proceed to the next stage of this project.

“We’re working with Active Tameside as well to actually look at how this can be fully utilised.

“I’m just glad we’re all clear so we can calm the Twitter-sphere down.”

Costs have increased again because the company that came second during the original tender is ‘significantly more expensive’ than the one the council first picked.

Inflation has meant that the price of work, particularly groundworks, steel and brickwork labour, have also all gone up.

And there are additional fees from the Local Education Partnership (LEP) to get the scheme mobilised again.

Director of finance, Kathy Roe told the meeting: “It will help address the Hyde swimming pool issue which we desperately need to get on and start because it will help with some of our issues around our Active Tameside project, and this increased budget should then help to get the contractor on board.”

The first delay to the project to expand the Walker Lane facility stemmed from ‘technical issues’, after surveys discovered that the existing electrical and mechanical system could not be adapted to run the new pool.

Consequently in August 2017 the authority committed a further £1m to make sure it could progress.

The budget was topped up again after chiefs agreed to pay an extra £88,000 to the contractor, after they said they were ‘nervous’ about dealing with the LEP after the Carillion collapse.

Carillion then owned 80pc of the LEP, which was in charge of tendering the contract.

Despite the financial assurance, the builder pulled out of the pool revamp the day before they were due to sign on the dotted line.

The project was then ‘paused’ in the summer while the council examined their spending priorities for their capital programme.

But the revised budget, if accepted by the contractor, should allow work to finally get underway.

Coun Ged Cooney said: “That’s great news on the Hyde leisure pool, people have been saying over a period of time that it’s never going to happen.

“Well hopefully we’ve been able to get the resources together now and get on with it.”