Council chiefs are facing a potentially costly clean-up after a £16m South Tyneside swimming pool and leisure centre sprung a leak – the latest in a series of repair issues.
Visitors to the Haven Point complex in South Shields were barred from using the main entrance area at the weekend due to water coming through the ceiling.
Warning signs instead diverted them to a side door usually used only in emergencies.
Staff sealed off the affected section – near the payment points - and laid out a row of buckets to catch and contain water.
No other facilities were affected and the centre’s three pools, gym and other features were open as usual.
But the mishap led to criticism by users, with one swimmer describing the situation as “appalling”.
He added: “It may only be the entrance that has been damaged, and I’m still able to get into the pool, but it’s really bad that such a new building is having problems like this.
“I hope it is the builders and not the taxpayer through council tax, that is picking up the repair bill.”
Haven Point, built to replace the ageing Temple Park leisure centre, was officially opened by Prince William in November 2013.
But it has suffered several operational problems that have caused temporary closures.
In November 2014, its pools closed for a week so that tiles and lighting could be repaired and other remedial work undertaken.
And in August 2016 the first-floor gym shut for several months due to flood damage caused by a burst pipe.
It led Lee Hughes, a former independent councillor, to criticise South Tyneside Council for alleged failures over its handling of the closure.
He claimed it had been slow to respond to public concern and had not been clear on when the centre would reopen.
Last October the council also had to replace one of 21,000 imported tiles, which had broken off the building.
Better news did arrive in May 2015 when the centre collected a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) accolade.
South Tyneside Council blamed the problem on an isolated leak above the main entrance, likely caused by a loose rainwater downpipe.
A spokeswoman said: “Scaffolding has been erected so that the source can be fully investigated.
“As a result, customers are asked to use the side entrance until the problem is rectified.
“The centre remains fully operational and no leisure services have been affected.”