Criticisms of a new £13million South Tyneside leisure facility have been rejected by the borough’s new mayor.
Hebburn Central was opened in a blaze of publicity last week by Mayor, Coun Richard Porthouse, who represents Labour in Hebburn North.
The two-storey building includes a six-lane swimming pool, a learner pool with bubble pools, sauna and steam room, library, learning centre and cafe, as well as meeting rooms, a customer service centre and an outdoor games area.
Before the facility opened Adam Naylor collected a 100-name petition, calling for the design of the hub’s sauna to be changed to include a rest room and cited concerns over its design.
Now the facility has opened Mr Naylor, of Bede Burn Road, Jarrow, is just as unimpressed, labelling it an “absolute shambles”.
He has pointed to nine reasons to back up his claims, including reduced opening hours compared to the old Hebburn Swimming Pool, lack of access to the bubble bath on weekdays, the cafeteria area overlooking the small pool giving a view into the sauna, and an “unhelpful” attitude by attendants.
I am very disappointed at the commentsCoun Richard Porthouse
Mr Naylor also criticised the concept of locating a library and a swimming pool under one roof.
He said: “A library next to a leisure facility? I was always under the impression libraries were supposed to be quiet places. Common sense clearly hasn’t prevailed here .
“The place is an absolute shambles and waste of taxpayers’ money.
“Ironically, a facility in Washington just opened and, at two million pounds cheaper, has more on offer and a proper sauna and steam room suite.”
Coun Porthouse said: “I’m very disappointed at the comments little more than a week since the facility was opened.
“To be frank, I think this particular person was waiting for the first opportunity to whinge.
“We have to give the facility a fair chance and I am sure it will prove a tremendous asset to the town. As for the library, the comments I have had about it have been fantastic.”
A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “Hebburn Central is proving to be a popular community facility with more than 3,000 paid admissions in the opening week and 485 people taking advantage of our ‘three-month free’ opening offer.
“This has surpassed all our expectations. Feedback from our customers has been fantastic, with the centre viewed as a valuable community asset.
“In terms of leisure and library provision, we now offer an increased, yet balanced, activity programme.”