Cash strapped Fife Council has been forced to close a major sports hall facility because of safety fears and may face a repair bill up to £120,000, less than five years after it opened.
The multi-use sports hall at Kirkcaldy Leisure Centre has been closed on a number of occasions in recent months to allow for emergency repairs to to be carried out.
Council officers say the damage has been caused by the excessive use of the facility by local roller hockey clubs, which have damaged the floor covering making it unsafe for core sports users including five-a-side and badminton.
However, red faced council officers admitted that the roller hockey clubs had been allowed to use the hall for up to four hours a week for several years despite officers being aware that the floor covering at the venue was unsuitable for such heavy going activities.
With around 27,000 people per year using the hall, a number of closures for repairs in recent months has seen the number drop by 2,000.
Andy MacLellan, community projects team leader told Kirkcaldy Area Committee, a replacement resin floor covering, which would allow both core sports and roller hockey use, will cost the council £120,000.
However Mr MacLellan said a vinyl replacement, at a cost of £66,000. which catered for core sports users only, was the preferred option.
The option would effectively mean a Kirkcaldy ban for all hockey clubs who would be forced to relocate to Cowdenbeath Leisure Centre.
“We must remember there were two key factors at the time, when we designed the facility: we had to consider the demand for roller hockey at the time and crucially to attract the £1m investment from SportScotland.”
Commenting on the embarrassing situation the Fife authority now finds itself in, Cllr Alistair Cameron said: “We have a floor that has lasted just four and a half years, it seems to me like it’s been an expensive mistake.”
Fellow councillor Judy Hamilton added: “It was the request of this committee at the time that the future centre would be be able to accommodate roller hockey. Now we are being squeezed again, it’s a very disappointing situation.”
Councillors called for a full breakdown of repair costings to be brought before next month’s committee.