By Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter
DELAYED plans to expand Hyde Pool may cost even more money as bosses scramble to get a contractor to commit to take on the scheme.
The proposals to build a new six lane swimming pool, changing rooms and spectator seating at the Active Hyde facility have been mired in setbacks since first being agreed more than two years ago.
So far, two contractors who had been about to sign on the dotted line have pulled out of the project, which is due to cost almost £1.5 million more than the £2m originally budgeted.
Now a monitoring panel has been told they are close to securing a new contractor – but the budget may have to be upped once again to seal the deal.
Assistant director of finance Tom Wilkinson said: “As you know we’ve suffered a number of setbacks, with contractors on two separate occasions backing out just prior to the contract being signed, both citing market conditions as the reason why.
“We’re back out to tender and we are very close to the appointment of a new contractor and we’re going through evaluation at the moment.
“We’ve not entirely finalised the price yet but it is likely that it might drift up slightly.”
Building work on the pool extension off Walker Lane was supposed to begin in May last year but ground has yet to be broken.
The report presented to councillors states the cost of the scheme is increasing due to the ‘ongoing delays and procurement issues’.
Conservative group leader Councillor Doreen Dickinson told the meeting: “To me there’s something very wrong when you get two contractors pulling out of a scheme.
“And the reason that the construction supply chain in the North West is extremely busy seems like an excuse to me.
“Would it not be preferable to let somebody else procure this contract as the LEP has done it twice and failed?”
But director of governance Sandra Stewart responded the issue was ‘nobody touches varying or sorting out an existing swimming pool’.
“People are quite happy to build them from scratch,” she said. “Pools are a nightmare to do, they are just renowned in the building trade, so it doesn’t matter who we had out here trying to do this, it’s just really difficult.
“Whether we like it or not we are going to see the costs go up and we are going to have to make a decision about whether we think that’s value for money and the right thing to do.
“I can quite see that we could end up with someone else pulling out, that’s just the nature of this business I’m afraid.”
The pool project has been dogged by setbacks since it was unveiled as part of the leisure strategy for the borough.
‘Technical issues’ required an extra £1m from the authority after surveys discovered that the existing electrical and mechanical system could not be adapted to run the new pool.
And then the budget was topped up again – first by £88,000 and then by £280,000 – in attempts to secure two different contractors, but both builders pulled out.