Swimmers in the south of Aberdeen – left high and dry through the pandemic – could soon be making a splash once again.
Sport Aberdeen has announced plans to have the leisure centre inside £47million super-school Lochside Academy back open to the public by the end of the month.
The target was revealed after criticism of council bosses from SNP Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn – after a pledge the pool would open again last October.
Popular public facilities such as the Get Active at Lochside centre and the David Welch Winter Gardens faced prolonged closures through the Covid pandemic.
And this resulted in the Labour-led council administration being accused of backdoor cost-cutting, under the guise of coronavirus safety.
Lochside swimming pool reopening could come this month
Council leader Jenny Laing, who floated the idea of an October reopening for the Lochside pool last autumn, blamed the so-called ‘pingdemic’ for the continued closure.
The Aberdeen Labour group leader told us: “Like all local authorities across Scotland, our primary focus has been on the welfare of our citizens and ensuring we provide them with the support they need to navigate their way through this pandemic.
“The council and its partners have had to adhere to the Scottish Government’s Covid restrictions which has meant many employees have been forced to self-isolate as a precautionary measure because they have been deemed to be a close contact of someone who has tested positive.
“This has been a major factor in the delay in reopening facilities at Lochside, however I am delighted that the Scottish Government is now following the rest of the UK and relaxing measures.”
She told of her “delight” at hopes from council arms-length body Sport Aberdeen that the pool could be welcoming visitors by the end of this month.
‘I’ll believe it when I see it’: MP’s doubt of January reopening date
However, Mr Flynn – whose pressure on continued closures of council facilities elsewhere in the city led to a Town House rethink – said he would “believe it when I see it”.
“It’s all good and well the council saying the pool will be open again soon – but the fact remains that the Labour leader told the press in early October that it would reopen in two weeks – so I’ll take this latest announcement with a pinch of salt.
“We’re now well into January and the public still can’t get access to what is a key community facility, used by locals and swimming groups alike, and it’s absolutely scandalous that the doors have remained shut for so long.
“We had a similar situation when the Winter Gardens were blocked off for months on end – the council leadership needs to get a grip, stop hiding behind sorry excuses and open up these facilities when they can, not just when public pressure becomes unbearable.”