IT has taken months of hard work and a huge amount of money – but The Pyramids Centre is finally back in action.
The News was taken on a tour of the Southsea leisure complex yesterday as members of the public were invited back for the first time since it was closed in February.
Families tried out the pool and had fun splashing about in the waves as they took in the venue’s fresh look.
Cllr Linda Symes, cabinet member for culture and leisure, was one of a select number of city officials who got to look around.
‘It looks so clean and inviting,’ she said. ‘It is a fantastic asset for the community, it keeps people healthy and it eases pressure on the NHS.’
As reported, The Pyramids was forced to close after storms caused water to pour into the plant room.
Torrential rain left about 2ft of water inside which destroyed equipment as well as ruining the venue’s electricity supply.
It meant the pool and other facilities like the gym, cafe and function room were out of action. The plant room has now been completely refurbished, the centre has been dried out and new boilers have been fitted which make the pool and showers warmer.
Other action that’s taken place include carrying out a deep clean, replacing pool filters and putting in better flood prevention measures.
Portsmouth City Council, which owns the building, had to fork out £100,000 towards the cost of damage caused by storms and an insurance company paid the rest, believed to be around £500,000.
Another £997,000 set aside for general maintenance has been used to fund an upgrade programme which was brought forward. A new fitness studio, bar and terrace cafe have been put in as well as new loos.
Rusty pipes have also been fixed.
Energy-efficient lighting has been installed as well as underwater lights which change and glow in the evenings.
New gym membership packages are also going to be offered.
BH Live poured £210,000 of its own money into the maintenance project.
Mike Lyons, director of leisure facilities for BH Live, admitted it had been tough bringing the venue back up to scratch.
‘It has taken a lot of work to get to this point, and it has been a challenge,’ he said.
‘The scope of work was much more than originally anticipated. But we have now got a much more efficient building, and in the future we won’t have to close down for as long when doing work.’
Yesterday saw a select number of visitors being invited along, but today everyone was able to go back to use the facilities.
Cllr Luke Stubbs, deputy leader of the council, said: ‘The building looks a lot fresher now that it has been refurbished. Having the premises closed over the summer was obviously disappointing for everybody, and it left a gap in the tourist offer for Portsmouth.’
Cllr Donna Jones, council leader, said: ‘It was a tragic situation with the extensive storm damage, and I urge all members of the public who have used it over the years to use it again.
‘BH Live has a comprehensive business plan and we will be reviewing it to see how they get on.’
Concerns still raised over cost to taxpayers
CONCERNS are still in place over the future of The Pyramids and the amount of public money being poured into keeping it open.
Councillor John Ferrett, Portsmouth’s Labour group leader, said his members will call for the council to terminate its funding as part of next year’s budget.
The group has also made it known in recent times that it would rather see The Pyramids be demolished in order to protect finances.
‘Our concerns have not gone away,’ he said.
‘The subsidy the council has given to The Pyramids has not gone away.
‘I have been told the subsidy next year will be half a million pounds.
‘And this is not acceptable, especially in an environment where we are talking about having to make £12.5m-worth of cuts.
‘You only have to look at the huge amount of money that has been given to the Pyramids in the last few years.’
Cllr Ferrett made reference to the fact a £2.86m loan to the previous operators Southsea Community Leisure Limited had been written off by the council.
SCLL was also given nearly a subsidy of nearly £1m a year to run the venue.
BH Live on the other hand is on a much cheaper deal, and is being handed £200,000 over the course of a five-year deal signed last year to help operate the business.