Repairs to flooded sports centre could reach £2m

Live Active Leisure opened its state-of-the-art 100-plus station gym Bell’s Sports Centre to the public last year.

Repairs to flooded Bell’s Sports Centre in Perth could reach £2m LDRS

Flooding repairs to a sports centre in Perth could reach £2m – more than double the cost of its revamp last year.

In July 2022, Live Active Leisure opened its state-of-the-art 100-plus station gym Bell’s Sports Centre to the public.

But just over a year later on Sunday, October 8, the gym and all ground floor areas – including the arena – suffered “considerable damage”.

This week councillor Bob Brawn told colleagues it seemed “quite apparent” not closing floodgates at Perth’s North Inch in time was not – as the chief executive’s report claimed – a contributory factory but “a major factor”.

A report by Perth and Kinross Council’s (PKC) chief executive Thomas Glen admitted floodgates at the North Inch were not closed in time during the extreme weather event on the weekend of October 7 and 8.

His report reviewing the local impact of the extreme weather events in October 2023 – which went before PKC’s Scrutiny and Performance Committee on Wednesday November 22 – said this failure “may have contributed to the flooding of some properties”.

Describing the situation on Sunday, October 8, Mr Glen said in his report: “Four floodgates adjacent to the North Inch remained open for a period of time during the flood event. The council acknowledges that the delayed closure of these may have contributed to the flooding of some properties.”

But Live Active Leisure board member councillor Brawn – and fellow residents who provided distressing deputations to the committee – believe the failure to close the floodgates in time was more than a contributory factor.

The Conservative Blairgowrie and Glens councillor said: “We all know that in events such as this, water can come from overwhelmed drains as well as from rivers – but the amount of damage here cannot be attributed to drains.

“It seems quite apparent that the failure to close the floodgates – as the precaution they are meant to be – is a major factor not just for Bell’s but for surrounding residential properties.”

He added: “It is worth noting that during Storm Babet – when gates were closed – there was no water ingress at Bell’s. Not – as my colleagues say – definitive proof of any failure but, as is often said in planning, a material consideration. That said, it does show flood prevention works when implemented.”

In 2022, councillors approved the decision to relocate the facilities at Rodney to Bells Sports Centre with the introduction of new equipment and repurposing some facilities at Bell’s. It cost PKC £750,000.

On Sunday, October 8, Bell’s suffered “considerable damage”.

Live Active Leisure chief executive Paul Cromwell said: “Obviously we have experienced floods at Bell’s. That’s widely known. Our last most significant one was 2020 which as everyone will remember was described as a one in 100-year flood – but here we are again.”

He told councillors – due to the high risk of flooding – Live Active Leisure carry out regular reviews and hold weekly team meetings to consider the weather forecast for the week ahead to “make suitable arrangements”.

Following the August 2020 flood changes were made to drainage, downpipes were moved and circulation areas were ramped to try and protect play areas.

Mr Cromwell said: “Unfortunately the volume of water overwhelmed the arrangements that we had in place that particular weekend.”

Describing the situation on the Sunday, October 8, he said: “We had some water ingress first thing in the morning by about 8am and it was manageable.

“But obviously that significantly increased throughout the day to the point around midday/1pm where we had to stop operations. We brought in additional staff to try and support that dynamic risk assessment and make sure we were doing everything we could to prevent water – but it wasn’t possible.

“By 4pm my staff and I abandoned the venue. Obviously the team did everything they could, they tried to salvage what they could on those intervening hours and make safe electrics as best we could as well.”

Describing the “considerable” damage, councillor Brawn told the committee: “New gym equipment was damaged; floors to affected areas – especially the main
arena and squash courts – damaged; underfloor wood support damaged; office areas damaged; electrical equipment and circuitry damaged. The list goes on.

“Assessments are still ongoing for specific items. However, it is quite apparent that to reinstate Bell’s completely will cost in excess of £1.5m. I would suggest that it is likely to be closer to £2m.”

Due to the previous flooding there is an issue with insurance.

Councillor Brawn explained: “As you would expect LAL [Live Active Leisure] carries the usual fully comprehensive insurance that any other commercial organisation would have. However, following severe flooding of both Bell’s and the Perth Leisure Pool in August 2020, there is an exclusion on surface water flooding.

“As a result specialist flooding insurance was purchased in conjunction with an allocation of some reserves. This does not apply to Bell’s where the premium to potential payout levels effectively meant LAL was insuring Bell’s itself.

“It is no overstatement to say that Bell’s has been devastated by this event.”

He called on PKC to “work in partnership to deliver an immediate financial support package which remedies the damage and the revenue loss and allows us to return crucial leisure and wellbeing activities in the shortest possible timescale”.

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