Tiling has begun in the Stanley Leisure Centre pool which has been closed for more than a year. MLA Barry Elsby laid the first of around 12,000 tiles on Wednesday, February 24. MLA ELsby said the pool was costing around £650,000 which "seems like a lot of money for a small community but you get what you pay for."
The pool was closed in November 2019 after deterioration was found in the lining and bonding with the tiles underneath and further hazards were identified in January 2020. Project manager, Anthony Van Rensburg said: "The pool was fibreglassed, as we know. We had a company come in to do an investigation and they advised we lift the fibreglass, which we did. We checked the tiles underneath and found them mostly loose and broken."
In July 2020, the contract for retiling the pool was awarded to UK company Guncast Swimming Pools Ltd and the pool is expected to reopen this May.
Mr Van Rensburg explained that the screed was also removed because it was water damaged: "We've removed all the remnants of the old pool and started with a brand new concrete base. The team arrived late January (2021), came out of quarantine and started preparing the surfaces. The team have rendered the walls, this pool is 30 years old it's been around for a while, the rendering gives a completely flat surface. We've done a lot of upgrade work in the plant room and more will happen in the coming weeks when a technician arrives."
The tiling work will be completed by Profix Tiling, subcontractors of Guncast. Owner Greg Paclawski and his team of four brought 40 tonnes of material to the Falklands. Mr Paclawski, who has been tiling for over 20 years, estimates the tiling of the walls will take a couple of days and the overflow areas are expected to take just over a week. "What is hard and difficult is using this epoxy grout because it's constantly washing and washing. It's a difficult product to work with but it will give you longevity," said Mr Paclawski.
After the tiling process and a 21-day curing period, the plant room will be upgraded and the pool can be filled. "We'll be testing the water flow, checking the water treatment is working properly. We'll then start heating the pool and filling it up really slowly so we don't put any stress on the structure of the pool," explained Mr Van Rensburg.
This isn’t the first refurbishment the pool has underwent. In 2012 urgent works were identified as being needed but it took over a year for those works to begin. The refurbishment began in 2013, lasted two years and the pool was reopened and closed twice during the process. The project suffered overrun costs, long delays and was subject to a report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). The report, released in 2019, concluded the refurbishment works did not represent value for money. Multiple issues including the tender process and project management were highlighted as well as poor quality control.
"We've learnt an awful lot from the PAC inquiry into what went wrong with the last pool and we've learnt tremendous lessons with that," said MLA Elsby. "We were determined in this project to get a highly skilled company to come in and do it, and we've had that."
When asked how the public can be assured of accountability in this project MLA Elsby said: "It comes down to project management and the fact we are on top of this all the time. Before we started the contract, two people from the company came down to make sure they understood what was necessary. Throughout this process, we've kept the quality control there. People from the company will be coming down before we sign off on it to make sure everything is up to standard."
LISTEN to our News Feature on the swimming pool here.