CONCERNS . . . left to right: councillors Matthew Ronnie, John Charteris and Ian Carruthers
Costs for repairing the beleaguered leisure centre in Hood’s Loaning now look set to easily exceed the original £17 million construction bill, it emerged this week.
Setting out what he now calculates as the final cost of the Dumfries and Galloway Council project, Conservative Group leader Ian Carruthers yesterday said: “In my view, the figure to complete this building — from start to finish — is in the region of £50 million.
“And a line has to be drawn.”
Councillors voted on Tuesday to press ahead with repairs, but Councillor Carruthers added: “We as a Conservative Group opposed taking it forward and spending all that extra taxpayers’ money.”
In March last year Dumfries and Galloway Council agreed a £9.5 million settlement with Kier Construction Limited.
But despite an original £10 million repair estimate, this July councillors agreed to release a further £500,000 after being told the project was already running £3 million over budget.
And when full council met again in private on Tuesday, they are understood to have been told that sum has shot up considerably.
Councillor Carruthers says original construction costs plus more expensive repairs added to interest on a sizeable council loan means the authority faces an expenditure of £36.5 million after Kier’s compensation is taken into account.
But on Tuesday, councillors voted to press ahead — despite Tory opposition to that and spending more money on a £250,000 independent public inquiry.
Council leader Elaine Murray has accused the Tories of a u-turn.
She said: “Millions have 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 Sport Scotland and others.”
Councillor Murray says all council members are ‘gravely concerned’ at the cost, but added: “The administration is determined to provide what will be, in all but name, a new and high quality facility on the site, while at the same time tying down cost.
“The Tories want to throw in the towel, walk away and squander millions of pounds of public money already spent.”
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AN MSP has called for DG One leisure centre repairs to be abandoned, the site bulldozed, and a facility built on a different site.
Oliver Mundell has branded the commitment of more money into the project as ‘insanity’, calling for a line to be drawn.
The Dumfriesshire Conservative MSP said: “As people never tire of saying, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity.”
Describing the venture as a tainted ‘farce’, he added: “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.”
He has also criticised committing more money before a £250,000 public inquiry into the project’s failings has begun.
He said: “Many people will be wondering what the point of spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on an inquiry is when councillors won’t even wait to learn from their mistakes.”
SNP Group leader has joined coalition partners Labour in criticising the Tories.
Mr Davidson said: “The Tory position on DG One is just bizarre.
“Their plan now appears to be to create the most expensive new car park possible by bailing out of the reconstruction contract at huge expense and demolishing the building, with no plans to build anything at all to replace either DG One or the current temporary sports facilities.”
Council leader Elaine Murray meanwhile states that that all financial detail and updates on DG One will be reported to council political group leaders on a monthly basis and reported to full council for approval.