A COUNCILLOR has called for an investigation into the structural integrity of a town’s leisure centre after it emerged its swimming pool could remain closed for “some months” because of defects.

Durham County Council closed Consett Pool, which is within the centre, before the coronavirus pandemic to allow repair works to be carried out. But council chiefs say it could remain closed for some months for further investigations.

County councillor Owen Temple, who represents Consett, said the entire complex should be thoroughly examined.

He said: “I am very concerned that a new building like this should need any repairs, let alone repairs of this scope and magnitude, that either imply poor workmanship or an unstable site.

“With a swimming pool that is apparently leaking, it’s hard to imagine what damage that might do.

"I have written to the chief executive of the county council and the principal of the conjoined Consett Academy asking for for an investigation into the structural stability of the whole complex.”

He added: “I know there was a previous problem with the pool and that was to do with the floor. they have also apparently had to fix floors in the squash courts and the sports hall.

"This closure follows an earlier issue just before the Covid crisis when the learner pool had to be closed becasue of problems with the floor.

"There is also the huge question of cost. It's not going to be easy to extract money from whoever was insuring Carillion (which went into liquidation)."

Alison Clark, the county council’s head of culture, sport and tourism, said: “We are pleased to be able to begin a phased reopening of leisure centres and we are working to develop the next stage of reopening which will see a return to swimming.

“Consett Pool opened in 2015, following the development of a new academy and leisure centre which also included the relocation of the town’s football club and the refurbishment of the rugby club. Until 2018, it was managed by a third party leisure trust.

“When we took over the management of the centre in 2018, a number of building defects became apparent. “This situation was particularly complex as the construction contractor Carillion went out of business shortly afterwards.

“Before Covid-19 caused us to close all of our facilities, the pool at Consett had been subject to a short-term closure in order to address some of the defects.

“We have taken the opportunity during lockdown to carry out further investigations and these investigative works are ongoing. Once they are completed, we will be able to ascertain when the pool can reopen, but early indications are that it may be some months."

She added: “We know the closure of the pool will have an impact on the community. We will be communicating with swimming clubs and customers who use the pool so that we can programme their activities into our other centres and our dry-side gym and class activities will continue to be available at Consett as usual, notwithstanding countywide Covid-19 adjustments. The safety of our customers remains our highest priority.”