Swimming pool under budget but the controversy continues

THE PLAN to bring a new swimming pool and sports centre complex to Montrose will cost £1 million less than the original budget.

Angus Council directors have recommended acceptance of a tender at just over 7 million which will reduce the overall cost of the project.

At a meeting on Thursday this week, councillors will be asked to accept Ogilvie Construction Ltd., Stirling, as the tender for the project at a total of 7,052,597.

Elected members will be asked to make a decision this week and if they agree that this tender should be accepted the total cost of the project will be 8,902,000.

Despite the project coming in at a reduced cost there is still controversy over the plan.

Arbroath councillor Donald Morrison hit back at claims made by Montrose Councillor David May in the Review last week.

He said: "As someone who reads the Montrose Review every week, Councillor May will be aware of my previous comments regarding the pool which supported residents' calls for either a standalone pool or the refurbishment of the existing facility in the burgh.

"Councillor May is also aware that repeated requests for the costings of a standalone pool either at the existing site or elsewhere in Montrose, from the council, remain unanswered."

Following the claims that the project will come under budget Mr Morrison added: "Whether the total cost of the extension to the Montrose Sports Centre is 9 million rather than the budgeted 10 million this remains an expensive project.

"It will offer the people of Montrose, who were promised a like for like replacement pool, a much reduced swimming pool facility.

"The new pool will still result in 25 years of charges at more than 500,000 a year."

Mr May disagrees that the new pool will be a reduced facility.

He said: "I would dispute Mr Morrison's comments that it is a much reduced facility.

"Unlike the present pool there will be vastly better disabled facilities and it will be a facility not only for people from all over Angus but also tourists.

"I'm not sure there are many local authority funded sports centre in the country that operate at an absolute profit be they directly managed by the authority or by a leisure trust.

"We operate a trading account in exactly the same way as a trust and actually make a technical profit, only its called a surplus, after the fee is taken into account.

"That fee is what councillors are prepared to pay to make leisure accessible and in my view is essential that people in Angus have the leisure facilities available to them."

Meanwhile, at Thursday's meeting councillors will consider an update report on the decant arrangements for the sports centre which will be closed during the 21-month construction period.

In Montrose itself, the Town Hall and the Academy among other venues will be used for decant purposes alongside other places in Angus.