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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 February, 2004, 13:55 GMT
Doubt over troubled sports centre
Clissold Leisure Centre
The centre opened more than two years late and 20m over budget
Hackney MP Diane Abbott says she wants the council to "come clean" about the future of an east London leisure centre which ran 20m over budget.

The Clissold Leisure Centre shut for three months in December with "design problems" - two years after it opened.

But Ms Abbott says she has heard the swimming pool may never reopen, because it is too expensive to fix.

Hackney Council currently is taking legal action against one company involved in the design.

The centre was supposed to cost 7m but ended up costing more than 27m and opening more than two years late.

But within another two years it had closed again because of reported "systemic design flaws".

I believe, if the centre remains closed indefinitely, there should be a public inquiry into where all that money went
Diane Abbott
Hackney Council says it is taking expert advice to find out what work needs to be done to make the centre safe.

But it could not say when the centre might reopen.

Ms Abbott, the Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, said money was taken away from other leisure facilities to put into the centre.

She told BBC London: "I understand that although the gym and squash courts could be fixed for a reasonable amount of money, repairing the pool could cost millions and nobody knows where the money will come from.

"The council has to come clean, tell the residents what's happening and give them a timetable for opening the leisure centre.

'A Hackney tragedy'

"I believe, if [it] remains closed indefinitely, there should be a public inquiry into where all that money went."

A spokesman for the council said: "The council is currently pursuing litigation through the courts regarding Clissold Leisure Centre.

"While this is under way any public inquiry would be inappropriate as it would be prejudicial to these legal proceedings."

Many people in Hackney are annoyed the centre has had to close.

One former swimming coach told BBC London: "It's a tragedy for young people in Hackney, we have had a generation of kids growing up in Stoke Newington without a swimming pool while this was being built.

"And it's a tragedy for the local tax payers who are still paying for this."




SEE ALSO:
Flagship leisure centre closes
05 Dec 03  |  London
Diane Abbott
17 Oct 02  |  Politics


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