Flood delays dome opening

Brian Morton walks through a huge puddle where one of the car parks should be.
Brian Morton walks through a huge puddle where one of the car parks should be.

THE opening of a multi-million pound leisure facility has been delayed after problems with drainage left the site waterlogged.

The Sports Domes, in Seaton Carew, was due to open this Friday but developer Seaton Leisure has been forced to put back the launch due to an on-going issue with a surface water pipe which has been disconnected.

Brian Morton, who runs Seaton Leisure and has pumped £7m into the project, says he has been forced to shell out an additional £300,000 in the last fortnight to try and get to the cause of the problem.

In the meantime, around 12 staff who had been recruited by Mr Morton to start work this week are now waiting to hear when their jobs will be available.

Mr Morton, who paid £2.6m to buy the site from previous owner Paul Hopper has been left fuming by the delay and admits he faces a race against time to have the Sports Domes open in time for the festive period.

He said: “Basically, it appears surface water pipe has been cut off so the water has nowhere to go.

“I’ve tried everything to have the water diverted, but with all of the heavy rain we’ve had, we have been fighting a losing battle.

“So far I’ve spent £300,000 trying to get to the bottom of the problem, but there’s no end in sight.

“It is frustrating because we have made so much progress, the domes are up and they look fantastic but we are at a bit of standstill because we can’t do anything if we’re under water.”

Legal representatives for both Mr Morton and Mr Hopper are now in talks to have the problem sorted, and Mr Morton added: “I can’t tell you how sickened I am by all of this because the knock-on effects are unbelievable.

“I have recruited people from other jobs who have handed their notice in after being told they would start here on December 14.

“People have paid subsciptions to use the gym and leisure facilities, but I’m in a position where I can’t give anyone any answers.

“I’ve spent millions of pounds trying to revitalise this area and create a facility to be proud of, so I am upset about these delays and the way things are going at the moment we’ll be lucky to be open for Christmas.”

A spokesman for Northumbria Water said: “All customers who connect to the sewer network for surface water drainage pay an element of their bill for the service.

“All customers have the right to make an application for a connection to the public sewer.

“It is the responsibility of the applicant to gain any right to carry out any work required to connect to existing sewers situated on third party land.

“This is a private matter between Seaton Leisure and Mr Hopper.”

Mr Hopper, who ran The Mayfair Centre before selling it Mr Morton, said he had been advised by his legal team not to comment on the matter.