£16m pool will create - not cost - jobs

NOT MAKING WAVES ... Union chief Merv Butler, below, says the Haven Point complex will bring extra jobs.
NOT MAKING WAVES ... Union chief Merv Butler, below, says the Haven Point complex will bring extra jobs.

LEISURE jobs will be created – not lost – when the swimming pool at the Temple Park Centre in South Shields closes and a new foreshore pool opens, a trade union leader has insisted.

The £16m Haven Point swimming pool and leisure complex at Pier Parade is expected to open next month, six months behind schedule.

Merv Butler Unison rep

Merv Butler Unison rep

And that will mark the end of the line for the pool at Temple Park.

But the changes will see the creation of 14 new leisure jobs overall, Merv Butler, the branch secretary of Unison South Tyneside has disclosed.

Concerns had also been raised that present staff could be at risk of losing working hours when they are transferred. However, Mr Butler revealed that issue had been addressed after an hours protection pay policy was negotiated.

He said: “This is essentially a good news story.

“There is to be a net increase in leisure provision posts across the borough of 14 – from 128 to 142, with 46 posts at Haven Point, including lifeguards, receptionists and dry-side attendants.

“Like any change, not everything runs smoothly. But we have negotiated a protection policy which means that staff hours are protected for 12 months, with six months’ full protection.”

Mr Butler said the transfer would take place in four to six weeks.

He added: “I know that 17 lifeguard posts, with various part-time hours, were advertised on the council’s website and they are busy filling them. There will follow an induction with existing leisure staff transferring over.

“I believe they are close to announcing an official opening date. There will also be a pre-opening trial period, at which point various community groups and schools will come in to test the facility.”

The Haven Point pool, work on which started in the spring of 2011, is the single biggest investment in leisure facilities in South Tyneside.

It will feature a 25-metre competition pool, an 18-metre learner pool with adjustable floors, leisure areas with flumes, sprays, bubble pools and water play.

Other facilities include a sauna and steam room, a gym, two dance studios, fitness testing and construction rooms, an outdoor terrace and amphitheatre.

It was originally due to be open in May. But it was put back until August after cold weather during the winter caused problems for Graham Construction, which is carrying out the work.

Last month the Gazette revealed that opening was now pencilled in for mid-to-late October.

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul