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Funds for city pools lost over council delay

CITY councillors have expressed astonishment that funding to revamp three Dublin swimming pools was lost because of delays.

Labour councillor Claire O'Regan said she could not understand why the council did not fast track the works to avail of the money.

She pointed out officials were notified of the availability of the grant in June 2011, giving them six months to comply with the conditions.

Cllr O'Regan told council management that she "fails to understand" why the money could not have been drawn down for the revamp.



FLABBERGASTED

It is not clear how much money would have been on offer but it is believed to be in the hundreds of thousands of euro.

The public swimming pools are in Coolock, Crumlin and on Sean MacDermott Street in the north inner city.

They had been threatened with closure but the local authority eventually agreed to refurbish the centres.

Cllr O'Regan expressed "in the strongest possible terms" her disappointment with the fact that the funding was not accessed.

She said for a facility like the Sean MacDermott Street pool --- which is so important to the community in an area that has been "decimated"-- not to receive priority attention was appalling.

The councillor told officials she was "absolutely flabbergasted" at the revelation.

The local authority has only recently produced an engineering report outlining the necessary improvements, over a year after it was first requested.

Fianna Fail councillor Julia Carmichael pointed out the saga surrounding the pools had been going on for two-and-a-half years.

Council official Jim Beggan said the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport advised the local authority in June 2011 that the extra funding may be available.

City Hall was told that if it was in a position to procure and carry out the works before the end of 2011 it could apply for the money.

"Clearly the extensive works that were required in the pools wouldn't allow us to apply under that scheme insofar as the works could not be carried out before the end of 2011," Mr Beggan said.

Mr Beggan said the works had to be sent out to tender, making the timeline impossible.

"We still haven't decided what the works are at this stage," he added.



DOSING

The time taken to complete the tendering process and engage a contractor made it unviable.

The council said "it was always understood that the exact nature of the works could only be accurately determined following reports from consulting mechanical, electrical and structural engineers".

Separate funding of €600,000 remains available for the three pools. Only €26,500 of this money has been spent.

comurphy@herald.ie


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