Multi-million pound project to refurbish North Herts Leisure Centre in Letchworth pushes despite added costs

Councillor Jane Gray

Councillor Jane Gray - Credit: Archant

The £3 million project to refurbish North Herts Leisure Centre will push ahead as a matter of urgency after a lengthy delay piled an extra £317,327 on to the scheme’s bottom line.

Members of North Herts District Council agreed on Thursday night that the project – which could also see a reduction in income of £137,985 in 2016/17 – to expand the Letchworth centre will push ahead.

The scheme – which was accepted in September last year – will see a new learner and training pool, dance studio and cafeteria seating 80 people on the ground floor to attract more customers.

Councillor Jane Gray, the council’s executive member for leisure, said: “I am not over the moon about presenting this report, but I have to do it.

“We have a very wonderful leisure centre and I’m sad to say it’s a bit tired as we all know.

“But hopefully this project will make our leisure centre even more wonderful and rather less tired.

“We have a very desirable plan for a brand spanking new teaching pool for the benefit of our community which will meet the demand for swimming which isn’t being met.

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“It is very much a contractors’ market which has been an obstacle for us.

“This is a community asset which was never driven primarily as a commercial project.”

Councillor Gary Grindal added: “As a member I have a huge enthusiasm for the plan as the leisure centre is looking extremely drab and it is desperately in need of investment.

“Anything that is going to encourage young children to take part in physical activity has to be welcomed.

“There are lessons to be learned, timings have caught us out – that is something which needs to be seriously looked at.”

Councillor Clare Billing said: “My concern is with the delays.”

Also expressing her frustration was Councillor Judi Billing who said: “The council’s motto – which I found out yesterday – is that we are mindful of the past and careful for the future.

“This is all well and good but that’s not the same as painful inactivity and going round in circles.

“Please can we get on with it.”