New £16m South Shields pool will open six months late

BEHIND SCHEDULE ... building work continues at Haven Point.
BEHIND SCHEDULE ... building work continues at Haven Point.

SOUTH Tyneside’s showpiece £16m swimming pool will not now be open until October – six months behind its scheduled completion date.

Haven Point in Pier Parade, South Shields, was 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.

Despite the delay, Coun Iain Malcolm, the leader of South Tyneside Council, told the Gazette in June that no further delays were anticipated.

Now the council has revealed that the eight-lane pool will now not be opening its doors until October.

A council spokesman declined to give the specific reason for the latest delay but stated that, when completed, the pool would be a “fantastic asset for the borough”.

This further setback was labelled “unacceptable” by Coun George Elsom, the Independent leader of the borough’s political opposition.

He said: “We have now missed the entire summer, which is ridiculous. We needed it to be open over the summer to attract much-needed visitors. I’m sure a lot of people will be very disappointed at this delay.

“It’s now five or six months behind schedule. That’s simply unacceptable.

“I’d like to know if officers put financial penalty clauses in place for overshooting the deadline.

“That is the norm for private organisations. If such clauses were not in place, why not?”

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “Haven Point will be absolutely unique, and a fantastic asset to the borough for years to come.

“We had hoped to complete the pool during the summer, but the most important thing is to get it right and provide a complex that local people and visitors alike can enjoy for years to come.

“It has been built to a superb standard, with eye-catching design and high-quality materials, and we think that when people see the finished product they will agree that it was well worth waiting for.

“The most important story here is the council is delivering a first-class new facility in spite of an exceptionally difficult financial climate.”

Addressing the question of penalty clauses, the spokesman added: “In any construction contract we undertake, there are remedies built into the contract, but at this stage our focus is firmly on working closely with Graham Construction to complete what will be a fantastic new asset for the borough.”

The pool, work on which started in the spring of 2011, is the single biggest investment ever made into 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.