Life Centre D-day delay

Outside of the almost completed Wigan Life Centre
Outside of the almost completed Wigan Life Centre

TECHNICAL hitches have delayed the first phase opening of Wigan Life Centre.

August bank holiday celebrations had been planned for the multi-million-pound complex’s south site – including the new swimming pool.

But Wigan Council and its partners last night announced that it had been hit by a “slight unavoidable delay.”

However, council chiefs say the completion of the two-and-half year construction project, which is split over two sites, is still on schedule for early next year and that the first component should now open early next month.

Despite delays due to two of the harshest winters on record and further problems due to the recession, major work on the south site of the multi-million pound new project has now been completed and final preparations are being made for staff to move in.

But the hold-ups have been blamed on the private finance initiative process which funds the scheme. A council spokesman said that when the deal was first signed specific contractors and suppliers were named and used. In the intervening years some of the smaller firms involved had fallen foul of the recession which meant having to go through the process, for instance, of ordering some components again.

This caused slight delays and has had a knock-on effect on health and safety approval.

Officers from the council and Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust are currently working closely with Life centre construction contractor Morgan Sindall in a bid to ensure any delays are kept to a minimum.

Wigan Council Life Centre Project Manager Carl Taylor said: “The construction of the Life Centre is continuing apace and we have made extremely rapid progress over the construction phase.

“There have been some slight unavoidable delays incurred which are beyond the council control.

“Our main priorities have to be that the building is safe and fit for purpose before we open to the public and we are doing all we can to ensure that this process is completed as quickly as possible.”

The £217m Life Centre, which is taking shape on two sites either side of Wigan Town Hall, is a new public services and leisure hub for all residents of the borough.

The South Site includes a Healthy Living Zone, consisting of a new swimming pool, Profiles gym and fitness studio as well as Health and Wellbeing Services. The North Site, which will complete the project, is due to open in the New Year, will contain a one-stop shop for public services, a Information Zone, including a new public library and a Neighbourhood Zone.

Mr Taylor said: “The Life Centre has been a decade in the creation and it’s fair to say that there is a real buzz about the opening. We are looking forward to people being able to see, use and make the most of this great new asset to the borough.”

You can find out more about the centre at a special Wigan town centre fun day on September 3.