Falkirk Council: Councillor wants answers over 2019 report which said Bo'ness Rec needed urgent repairs

A councillor is asking Falkirk Council’s external auditors to look into what he calls “unacceptable behaviour” by the local authority in the way it has handled the decision to close Bo’ness Recreation Centre.
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The controversial decision was approved by 15 votes to 13 at a council meeting on January 31.

But it came just a few weeks after councillors had agreed to give the centre more time and get more information before making a final decision.

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It is against the council’s standing orders for a decision to return to council within six months and Councillor Brian McCabe is not convinced that it should have.

Residents in Bo'ness made their feelings clear during protests at the recreation centre. Pic: Michael GillenResidents in Bo'ness made their feelings clear during protests at the recreation centre. Pic: Michael Gillen
Residents in Bo'ness made their feelings clear during protests at the recreation centre. Pic: Michael Gillen

Councillors had been told that evidence from a condition report made it clear that the decision could not wait for another six months and it could be dangerous if the centre remained open.

Indeed, just days after the final decision was reached, the swimming pool was closed due to safety fears, with water seeping from the pool into the surrounding concrete.

But it has now been revealed that a report by Falkirk Council’s Development Services team, in 2019, had recommended urgent repair work being done on the pool.

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The 2019 report states: “In view of the hazard to the public and the increased risk caused by the weakened corner of the structure, it is my opinion that the swimming pool should be closed and drained as soon as possible.

“Monitoring the cracks and damage would not be appropriate in these circumstances. A specialist contractor should be appointed to repair the swimming pool. The will involve replacing all defective concrete and reinforcement at the South East corner of the pool as soon as possible.”

In letters to both Audit Scotland and Improvement Service Scotland, Mr McCabe says the evidence “exists to support the view that the council has potentially been negligent with regards to health and safety”.

In the letters, he says: “It is alarming that there appears to have been an extant ‘danger’ to members of the general public that the council have been aware of since 2019 but are only now


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But Mr McCabe says he is very concerned that the 2019 report – clearly highlighting the state of the swimming pool – was not referenced in the new reports.

The councillor now wants to know: “What repairs, if any, were carried out by a specialist contractor? What risk were the council exposed to during the period of repairs being required?”

“It may be that remedial works were carried out and the safety of the public was assured.

“However, it is the not knowing and not having robust measures in place to cater for such scenarios which is disturbing.”

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Mr McCabe says the letters were prompted as he tried to secure a special meeting of Falkirk Council but failed to do so.

He now wants to raise the subject at a meeting of Falkirk Council tomorrow (Wednesday), in the hope it will “allow these concerns to be aired and addressed.

In a motion, he asks that: “Council officers are tasked to perform a full audit of all property/assets previously located within the portfolio of the Community Trust to ensure that no other facility remains a safety concern to residents and users of Council facilities.”

The motion could, however, be referred to the next meeting of the council’s executive for a decision.

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A Falkirk Council spokesperson said: “An internal fact-finding exercise is currently underway into the 2019 report on the Bo’ness Rec pool wall. Once this is complete then officers will be able to fully update elected members and the wider public on the answers to questions that are being asked about the report, and what repair works were undertaken since 2019.

“This exercise is necessary because many of the employees with knowledge of the 2019 report no longer work for the council.

“In relation to the standing orders, the council was entitled to consider the Bo’ness Recreation Centre in January. The issue of the six month rule was raised at the meeting and advice was given at that time.”