The town’s premier leisure centre will receive a significant refurbishment after Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet agreed a major investment to replace the centres’ roof at a cost of £1.1 million at its meeting on 2 February.
Link Centre in West Swindon, which marked its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2010, houses the ice rink, sports hall, swimming pool, library and community rooms and draws well over 800,000 users from the town and surrounding region, as well as hosting regional sports competitions. The ice rink is also home to Swindon Wildcats ice hockey team.
The building’s huge flat roof built over large activity spaces has leaked to some degree from the day it opened in 1985, but over the last five years many more buckets to catch rain water have been in evidence during heavy rain as the roof condition has deteriorated.
Councillor Nick Martin, chairman of the West Swindon Forum, who lobbied the cabinet for the money said the funds would be underwritten from future earnings. "Link Centre is a much enjoyed capital asset which obviously cannot be allowed to deteriorate for want of maintenance. The buckets didn’t give a good impression and after 25 years any maintenance or patch up work was almost doing more damage than it was repairing. It’s time to make a major improvement because users expect to be able to use the facility in the dry and we need to continue to attract them in large numbers.
"Even in difficult economic times, the council has a strong commitment to providing a good quality leisure experience."
Fellow West Swindon councillor Steve Wakefield congratulated Coun Martin for securing the council’s agreement. "Nick’s done a really good job and deserves a pat on the back for lobbying for improvements to Link Centre. It’s a very highly regarded and essential facility in the area and sports and leisure users in the future will thank him for his efforts at a time when the council is cash strapped."
Link Centre manager Carole Jamieson described the agreement as ‘wonderful.’ "No longer will visitors be greeted with a line of buckets down the mall catching water drips and no longer will staff have to continually check the ice rink for soft spots which could trip up skaters. We’ve only had to cancel the occasional activity like a badminton session or a tea dance in the community hall because of the leaks but it gives users a poor impression.
"The whole ambience of Link Centre will change and West Swindon residents and the people of the town can now be confident in the knowledge that the centre will continue to be a major sports and leisure attraction."
It is expected that the repair will take place during the summer months.