The legal profession is being deemed ‘the real winner’ as the borough council accepts compensation of £130,000-plus to settle a long-running dispute over a contract at Cascades Leisure Centre.
The lion’s share of the money is being gobbled up by legal fees – so much so that the Civic Centre will be left with a sum reported to be between £7,000 and £10,000.
The out-of-court settlement was agreed during an in-committee session of the council on Monday night, following intensive negotiations.
It seemed destined for court, but both sides accepted legal advice that either of them could fare much worse if the court case proceeded, and that the legal fees would continue to mount.
The quality of the work on the contract – about five years ago - led to a dispute between the council and two contractors involved, although one of the contractors has since gone into liquidation.
The council deemed the work unsatisfactory and initiated a third group to carry out repair work, which again meant draining the pool and closing it to the public. It is understood that the loss of trade is not included in the compensation package.
A council source said that they had little option but to seek compensation, adding that the move was sanctioned in the Civic Centre and that the local government auditor also advised them to move on the issue.
One council member told Monday night’s meeting that the legal boffins were the ultimate winners, adding, “At least this council has wiped its face by accepting the package. The ratepayers are not losing out.”
It is also reported that the planning stage for the new super leisure centre at Craigavon Lakes is well advanced, with that project replacing the existing three leisure centres – Cascades, Waves in Lurgan, and Craigavon Leisure Centre in Brownlow.