A LEISURE centre due to open this year is facing a 12- month delay, following a string of problems at the site.

And when it opens its doors, the town's other pool could have to close for £1.5million repairs.

The £5.7m swimming pool and gym at the Louisa Centre, in Stanley, was vaunted by Derwentside District Council as a key factor in rejuvenating the town centre.

It was due to open in spring, but delays have pushed the launch date back to spring next year.

Council leader Alex Watson last night issued a plea to residents for patience.

"People are upset and they have a right to be," he said. "There were problems, but we have sorted them out and it is moving on apace."

Costs began to spiral last year, when a European firm which was paid to supply insulating panels for the pool went into liquidation.

The site is riddled with former mine workings, that have caused several problems for the contractor, Anglian Water Company (AWC).

Earlier this year, an entire wall of the building had to be demolished and rebuilt, because it was not properly secured in place.

The council expects to recover some of the spiralling costs of the development from AWC, in penalty clauses.

"There are more men working there now and we expect it to be completed on time," said Coun Watson.

"It will have first-class facilities for the disabled, a small pool for youngsters and other sports and exercise facilities. It is really aimed at the whole community.

"The fact that this pool is being built shows how we are investing in Stanley."

The 25-metre pool was funded with a lottery grant through Sport England, along with a £2m contribution from the council.

The only other pool for Derwentside's 86,000 residents, in Consett, will be closed for repairs for up to nine months, once Stanley Pool opens.

Durham North MP Kevan Jones, said: "What should have been a good news story for Stanley has turned into a fiasco. Local people should be asking questions as to why the project has been delayed so long."