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State of Orchard Leisure centre in Armagh branded ‘unacceptable’

Armagh swimming pool Orchard Leisure centre

The current state of Orchard Leisure Centre has been branded “unacceptable” by an Armagh councillor during a meeting of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s leisure and community services committee.

Telling of how the facility had no hot water on Sunday, June 11, Councillor John Og O’Kane said the city’s residents feel the facility is very much the “poor relative” in relation to the borough’s other leisure centres.

The Sinn Fein councillor also asked for details on what officers’ plans are to bring the facility in line with that found elsewhere in the borough.

Speaking at the committee meeting on Monday, June 12, Cllr O’Kane’s party colleague, Councillor Bronagh Haughey first raised concerns about “ongoing issues” at the facility.

The Cusher councillor noted the business plan for Council’s health and recreation department has marked its ‘maintain and attain quality accreditation awards for services and facilities’ section as green and notes that nine indoor leisure facilities have completed the Quest accreditation process.

Quest is a continuous improvement tool for leisure facilities and sports development teams, designed to measure how effective organisations are at providing customer service.

Cllr Haughey asked if individual reports had been produced for each leisure centre in relation to this accreditation, expressing particular interest in the one for the Orchard Leisure Centre as she was aware of “ongoing issues” at the facility.

“Does Orchard Leisure Centre have this accreditation and do we have individual reports based on this accreditation for each centre,” she asked.

“I know I, and other Armagh representatives would be interested in seeing the individual one for Orchard Leisure Centre.

“There have been a lot of ongoing issues with services there so it would be good to see this report.”

A council officer confirmed that all council leisure centres have been through the Quest assessment and the feedback can be circulated to councillors if desired.

Picking up on his Sinn Fein party colleague’s comments, Councillor John Og O’Kane said many in the city now feel that Orchard Leisure Centre has become the “poor relation” in terms of leisure provision in the borough.

The Armagh councillor revealed the facility was without hot water on Sunday and listed a number of problems with it before asking what council’s “future plans” are for the centre.

“Orchard Leisure Centre is like a poor relation in regards to our leisure centres,” he said.

“I have had numerous complaints about the facility. Yesterday (Sunday, June 11) there was no hot water at the facility, there was no showers available as a result.

“The steam room has been out of action touching on three months, I think, and the jacuzzi was off yesterday.

“The centre is very run down and people in Armagh are extremely disappointed in it at the moment, so what are the future plans for it?”

A council officer told the chamber members would be presented with a report in the behind closed doors section of the meeting that would outline Council’s medium term plans for the centre.

“As part of the presentation later tonight I will give a review of where we are at this year and moving forward in relation to Orchard Leisure Centre,” said the officer.

“There are a number of discussions ongoing with our estates team on the feasibility aspects of the work on a two/three/four year plan to look at what we are looking at doing in terms of our spend capacity.

“The overview that will be provided later on might give you a better idea of where we are at if you are happy enough to wait for it.”

Cllr O’Kane confirmed he would wait for further discussion to take place during the confidential section of the meeting but stressed the ongoing issues are not acceptable.

“I am happy to wait until the presentation to discuss this further but I do not think it is acceptable for a leisure centre to have no hot water on a Sunday when there are people using the facility for their daily exercise,” he said.

Related: Two decaying leisure centres added to long list of dereliction

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