Urgent work has begun to repair the broken boilers at the King Alfred Leisure Centre and re-open the pools as soon as possible.
The popular pools, run by Freedom Leisure on behalf of the council, have been closed since 6 January after the boilers broke down, leaving the building without any hot water or heating.
Gym and sports halls open
Although there is currently no hot water or heating in the building, the rest of the centre remains open. This includes the gym, sports halls, studios and ballroom.
Water heaters have been provided for staff to wash their hands, to comply with Workplace Regulations.
A custom-built control panel has now been ordered and work has begun to replace some of the wiring.
Once the new control panel is in place, contractors will be able to assess the extent of any further damage, and determine what work needs to be done to the boilers.
Work has also started to repair the boiler house roof to help prevent the ongoing water ingress and we will be asking structural engineers to visit and advise on any further work needed.
Working with customers
Freedom Leisure staff are working hard to provide alternative venues for swimming clubs and children enrolled in swimming lessons at Prince Regent Swimming Complex and St Luke’s Swimming Pool.
Options are also being explored to replace the ageing King Alfred which is becoming increasingly difficult to operate and maintain.
A building condition survey, carried out as part of the Sports Facilities Investment Plan, estimates that the cost of maintaining the council’s sports facilities over the next 15 years will be around £20million. Much of this would be spent keeping the King Alfred open.
A new West Hub
With this in mind, plans are moving forward for a new West Hub leisure centre facility, outlined in the Sports Facilities Investment Plan. In the meantime, resources allowing, we will aim to maintain the current King Alfred for the next five years.
Councillor Martin Osborne, co-chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee said: “Our clear priority is to get the King Alfred pools to re-open as soon as possible and, along with Freedom Leisure, we are working hard to make this happen.
“In the meantime, we need to look to the future and how we can provide residents living in the west of the city with modern, energy-efficient and high-quality leisure facilities.
"That’s why we are moving forward and exploring options for a new West Hub and, in the coming months, will be asking residents to help us shape those plans.”