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Hackney to open new swimming pool as it struggles to escape shadow of Clissold

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Hackney Council, which is still mired in controversy over the closed Clissold Leisure Centre, has announced that the over-budget and late London Fields Lido will open by the end of this month.

The scheme, which was masterminded by S&P Architects, was supposed to open in June of this year, but has been troubled by delays.

Its opening will come as a relief to council officers working on the local swimming-pools programme, because their reputation has been severely tarnished by the Clissold debacle.

Clissold Leisure Centre, by Stephen Hodder Architects, has stood empty since it closed in 2003 - and it has been the focus of a hugely bitter legal dispute between the council, the architect and the engineer Whitby Bird.

The London Fields project, which saw the renovation and refitting of the severely rundown lido, suffered severe setbacks after the discovery of very high levels of asbestos in the building.

Speaking earlier this year at the announcement that the project was running late, a Hackney Council spokesman made a thinly disguised reference to the problems at Clissold.

'The original programme was always a tight schedule and while the builders have overcome the issues on site and are working additional shifts to complete the work, our top priority has always been to do justice to this wonderful facility by getting it open and keeping it open; getting things right first time,' he said.

by Ed Dorrell

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