Coun­cil leader re­jects‘ bull­doze it’ call

Dumfries & Galloway Standard - - FRONT PAGE - Jackie Grant

The fi­nal bill for the ill-fated DG One leisure cen­tre could hit £50 mil­lion, it was claimed yes­ter­day.

Tory coun­cil­lor Ian Car­ruthers be­lieves the author­ity should now de­mol­ish the “white ele­phant” due to es­ca­lat­ing costs.

He spoke out af­ter a be­hind closed doors meet­ing on Tues­day when coun­cil­lors were given an up­date on the re­pairs plan for the trou­bled swim­ming pool com­plex.

Mr Car­ruthers said: “The fig­ures we’ve now been given are sig­nif­i­cant and, in my view, the price of this build­ing is now mov­ing closer to £50 mil­lion and that is a step too far.

“Now is the time to draw a line un­der it and raze the build­ing to the ground. That would be the right thing to do.”

But the coun­cil leader, Elaine Mur­ray, dis­missed his cost claims.

She said: “Around £27 mil­lion has al­ready been spent on re­me­di­a­tion and the build­ing is now at the stage where the faults are re­vealed and can be cor­rected.

“The Tories want to throw away all the pub­lic money al­ready spent along with what­ever the de­mo­li­tion costs would be – and the pos­si­ble claw­back of fund­ing pro­vided by sportscot­land and oth­ers.

“We’re in an ex­tremely re­gret­table po­si­tion and we’ll end up with one

leisure cen­tre for the price of two, but I’d rather have that than have a £27 mil­lion car park.

“The fi­nal cost won’t be any­thing like £50 mil­lion.”

Dum­friesshire MSP Oliver Mun­dell also waded into the row say­ing it would be bet­ter to bull­doze the build­ing and start again.

Mr Mun­dell in­sisted that the de­ci­sion made at Tues­day’s coun­cil meet­ing to “plough on” with re­pairs showed the ad­min­is­tra­tion had “lost the plot”.

He said: “The cur­rent site should be bull­dozed be­fore it falls down and the whole project should start again on a dif­fer­ent site.

“Not only would that likely end up be­ing cheaper but it would draw a line un­der this whole sorry saga.”

The orig­i­nal bill for the cen­tre, built by Keir North­ern, was £17 mil­lion.

Some £10 mil­lion was set aside for re­pairs to be car­ried out by McLaughlin and Har­vey last Septem­ber with Dr Mur­ray ad­mit­ting in July that an­other £8 mil­lion could be needed.

Tues­day’s brief­ing was heard in pri­vate de­spite a plea that mem­bers of the pub­lic should be “al­lowed to know what’s go­ing on”.

North West Dum­fries coun­cil­lor Gra­ham Bell asked for a vote to be taken on the talks be­ing heard in pub­lic but lost 23-18.

He said af­ter­wards: “Mem­bers of the pub­lic are fed up of these be­hind closed doors meet­ings.

“They should be aware of what’s go­ing on but in­stead we’re gagged once again.”

And Ste­wartry Tory coun­cil­lor David James added: “This is such a high pro­file fi­asco that the pub­lic have a right to know what’s go­ing on.

“The cost is con­tin­u­ally es­ca­lat­ing and by the time DG One is fin­ished, we’ll have a build­ing that’s the best part of 30 years old and that cost three times more than it’s worth.”

Coun­cil leader Elaine Mur­ray

Scrap it Coun­cil­lor Ian Car­ruthers

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