City Leisure Centre ‘in jeopardy’

July 6, 2010

By Brónagh Murphy

Plans for a new state-of-the-art leisure centre for Newry appear to be in jeopardy after the sale of a prime retail site, the proceeds of which are needed to finance the project, collapsed.

The news came as Sinn Féin councillor Brendan Curran called for an emergency, single-issue meeting of Newry and Mourne District Council to discuss the matter.

Councillor Curran revealed that just two bids were received through the Council’s tender process for the sale of the prime city centre Albert Basin site, neither of which has been deemed acceptable.

“This has meant that the entire proposal has fallen flat on its face and the much lauded new leisure centre for Newry is in jeopardy,” Mr Curran said.

He accused Council officials of ‘mismanagement’ from the outset in relation to the whole process.

“There has been a fortune spent on getting this off the ground, visiting different leisure centres in England and all over Ireland, paying for planners, solicitors and consultants and all this effort has now ground to a halt,” he said.

Let down

Plans for the new ‘super’ leisure and recreational centre for Newry were first announced by Newry and Mourne District Council two years ago.  At the time it was stated that the Council expected to sell off property which was no longer required to finance the project, estimated to be in the region of £20 million.

Councillor Curran has expressed concern at what will happen if the project does not proceed.

“What I am concerned about is what will happen when our current swimming pool is no longer suitable?  This pool was constructed in the 1960s and, as such, is approaching 50 years old.  The people of Newry and the surrounding areas deserve access to the best of facilities and I feel that they have been sorely let down by the Council.

“For this reason I am calling for an emergency Council meeting to deal with this issue and see if anything can be salvaged from the wreckage of these plans,” he added.