The luckless project to expand Hyde Pool is to cost Tameside £2m more than planned – despite no ground yet being broken.
In the latest in the long-running saga over plans to build an extension to the Active Hyde facility, council chiefs have agreed to up the budget once again by an eye-watering £570k.
Officers say the cash is needed to get a contractor to sign on the dotted line, with the price rise attributed to ‘volatility’ around subcontractors and material costs rising.
But it takes the total budget for the project – which is yet to physically begin – from the £2 million agreed at its inception to just over £4 million.
Jeanelle de Gruchy, director of population health, told the cabinet they are committed to getting residents active, but don’t currently have ‘enough’ swimming pools in Tameside.
“So we’re in a position where we’ve got a complex job of extending the leisure pool facility and what we need is an urgent decision to ensure the project can be delivered in this context of client volatility in that contractor market,” she said.
Ms de Gruchy told members that contractors have attributed the ‘signficant cost increase’ to general construction inflation, and ‘volatility of subcontractor pricing’ – particularly mechanical and electrical contractors, and steel costs.
But she added that the pool project was important for the borough as it is about ‘our commitment to residents in terms of their health and keeping active’.
Chair of council business, Councillor Joe Kitchen said he was ‘delighted’ the project could be finally about to get under way.
“I’m well aware that costs have gone up and the reasons for it, most of all are outside the council’s control,” he said.
“There’s also a main sewer going through the site which we didn’t find out until it was budgeted for the first time so that’s added to the cost.
“We also need to bear in mind that it’s not just an extension for Hyde, it’s a replacement for Dukinfield swimming pool. It will be well used.”
Deputy council leader Bill Fairfoull added they hoped they can ‘get it over the line’ to fulfil their long-standing commitment to build the extension.
Cabinet member Eleanor Wills added they are ‘crying out’ for the service for its health benefits and the opportunity to offer more children’s swimming lessons.
She said: “It is encouraging to see that we’re close to getting works underway, the fact that we’ve come across so many obstacles is obviously really disheartening.”
Misfortune has dogged the proposals to build a new six-lane swimming pool, changing rooms and spectator seating at the site off Walker Lane since being agreed three years ago.
Building work was supposed to begin in May last year, but two contractors have so far pulled out of the project.
The project was originally included in the council’s £20.4m leisure facility investment budget agreed in March, 2016.
But delays to the plan began almost at once 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 Local Education Partnership (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 at the eleventh hour, on the day before they were due to sign on the dotted line.
Strategic Team Group (STG) were the second company selected to carry out the pool project by Tameside council.
However on December 13 – the day after executive cabinet had agreed to up the budget yet again by a further £280k – STG also decided not to proceed with the project.
The potential new contractor has not yet been revealed.
Hyde Leisure Pool (by Sean Hansford/MEN)