IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Pool closed by blaze: the unanswered questions

05 July, 2019

Damage caused by a fire at Highbury Leisure Centre

• COUNCILLOR Janet Burgess’s response to my letter (Nine months after blaze there’s no sign of Highbury Leisure Centre pool reopening, June 21) says: “Your readers can rest assured that we have been extremely busy behind the scenes”, (We hope pool hit by blaze will be open again by 2021, June 28).

This is, to put it kindly, a typical cover-up for what amounts to a failure of responsibility to the residents of Highbury and the schools that use the pool for swimming lessons.

No, Cllr Burgess, we are not reassured that your best provisional estimate is that you will be able to reopen the pool by early 2021, two-and-a-half years after it was closed.

Cllr Burgess fails to address the key points in my letter. I urge the Tribune to use its rightly-praised investigative journalism to obtain answers to the following questions:

• If, as Cllr Burgess says, “The first thing we needed to do was accurately survey the damage and ascertain how much of the remaining infrastructure could be reused,” why did GLL wait until May 2019, six months after the fire, to take a sample of a girder for testing to establish whether all the girders needed replacing?

• Since Cllr Burgess says “Our next steps involve investigative work on the pool plants, which are full of debris,” why has GLL not even begun this investigative work, seven months after the fire, particularly since she says it is needed before they can finalise a full scope of works?

• Which professional services have GLL commissioned?

• Which contractors have GLL identified for the design-and-build phase?

• Since the fire was started on the roof while GLL contractors were working there, is there any issue of negligence involved?

• Given the experience of Grenfell Tower and other buildings, why did GLL use highly flammable material for the roof of the pool?

• Have any insurance issues delayed the restoration process?

• Has GLL breached any of the terms of its contract with Islington Council to operate Highbury Leisure Centre?

JOHN HANDS
Battledean Road, N5

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