Leo Chapman at Ironmonger Row Baths
Published: 16 August, 2012
by PETER GRUNER
THE reopening of Finsbury’s famous Ironmonger Row Baths missed the Olympic Games and the refurbishment will not be completed in time for next week’s Paralympics.
The £16million project, which began two years ago, is not scheduled to be complete until October. Local activist and gym member Leo Chapman this week asked why the scheme has taken so long and cost so much.
“The swimming pools, gym, Turkish baths and public laundry complex were to be finished by last June, in good time for the Games,” Mr Chapman said. “What happened?”
He is critical of Islington Council approving £12m towards the £16m refurbishment costs.
The EC1 New Deal regeneration programme allocated a further £3.7m towards the cost and the rest came from outside funding.
Mr Chapman said: “The Labour council had every opportunity to cut back the £12m because of what former planning chief Councillor Paul Convery termed ‘straitened financial circumstances’ at the March 17 executive meeting.”
The council has apologised for the delay, saying there have been issues with the building of a sub-station.
In April, there was a three-week hold-up when medieval artefacts were unearthed at the site.
Labour leisure chief Councillor Janet Burgess said: “The refurbishment of Ironmonger Row is a huge project and, as is often the case with historic buildings, some issues have arisen along the way that couldn’t have been planned for, and they unfortunately mean we’ve had to put back the reopening date.
“These delays mean we’ll now be testing the new facilities in August and opening the centre to the public in October.
“I’m sorry we’re not able to reopen the centre on schedule and realise it’s frustrating for residents.
“Our building contractors are doing everything they can to make sure there are no further delays.”