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Clissold problems need £5.1m fix

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A massive £5.1 million is needed to carry out essential repairs to Hodder Associates' ill-fated Clissold Leisure Centre, a report for Hackney council has found.

The rectification sum - almost a quarter of the project's value - is set out in the longawaited 'Future Plans' document, received by the council's cabinet this week.

The report summarises the major problems identified from intensive investigations by architect Bickerdike Allen with Arup, and details water penetration to the sports hall and inadequate roofing protection as the major pitfalls.

The cabinet has been asked to approve the allocation of the £5.1 million, a 'worst-case' figure for the repair and reopening of the centre in February 2006.

Clissold has been at the centre of a fierce litigation battle since catastrophic flooding and ongoing operational problems forced it to close in November 2003.

This week, Hackney mayor Jules Pipe refused to say whether the problems were a design or a construction fault. 'Our aim is to ensure one of them is at fault and gain adequate compensation, ' he said.

Pipe added that he was satisfied that the subcontractor was not at fault for the first round of litigation over delays and cost overruns (AJ 7.10.04). The pre-trial review for the second phase, which will identify culpability for the structural damage, takes place tomorrow (Friday).

Asked whether Hackney council would consider working with the scheme's original architect, Hodder Associates, again in the future, Pipe commented: 'I'll have a firmer view after the litigation.' The settlement previously paid by Hodder Associates has not been disclosed.

Pipe guaranteed the repairs would not be subject to the same debacle as the construction of the original building. 'Operationally, the council is different now from what it was 10 years ago. We will definitely oversee it more this time.' But when questioned whether the council should be held partly responsible for its self-proclaimed lack of administration, the mayor hit back. 'I get fed up when people talk about clienting. If you pay an awful lot of taxpayers' money to professionals, there should be a duty on them to deliver, ' he added.

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