South Ayrshire Council's leader has laid out the plans for the future of the Citadel Leisure Centre if councillors vote to scrap proposals for a brand new facility in the town centre.

The Conservatives vowed before and since May's election to put the plans for the new centre at the Arran Mall and Hourstons on the shelf and concentrate on refurbishing the Citadel.

Cllr Martin Dowey, leader of the authority's minority Conservative administration, doubled down on that approach after being asked whether recent information about the "serious operational risks and environmental problems" at the Citadel would make refurbishment justifiable.

But Cllr Dowey admitted that, if necessary, the work may not entail a ‘top to bottom’ refurbishment.

Instead they may look at targeted refurbishment.

Labour group leader Cll rBrian McGinley, who as depute leader of the previous administration, had pushed for the new build, asked: “Given the recently provided information about the serious operational risks and environmental problems associated with refurbishing the current Citadel, does the administration consider that retrofitting would still be a justifiable 'best value' option should the Ayr Leisure Centre not go ahead?”

In his written response, the council leader said: “If a decision is taken not to proceed with the Ayr Leisure Centre project, but instead invest in the refurbishment of the Citadel, then works could be progressed in a number of ways.

“One option would be to carry out a top to bottom refurbishment to bring it up to modern standards.

“This work was estimated at £22.7m in June 2020 (it would include strip out/down-takings, fabric repairs/upgrade of roof/facades, renewal of mechanical and electrical plant, renewal of specialist floors, windows, doors, decoration and replacement of fixtures and fittings).

“If the funds made available for refurbishment do not allow a full refit, then another option would be to take a targeted approach and prioritise those works that address any pressing issues with the fabric of the building, whilst at the same time helping the council achieve net zero carbon.

“This would be one way to maximise the impact of the limited funds available and demonstrate best value.

“The targeted approach could also be undertaken by a rolling programme of works where areas of the building are closed off and refurbished before moving on to the next.

“This could be implemented in a way that minimises disruption to users by retaining access to certain parts of the building at certain times.”

Cllr McGinley responded: “This would clearly be a difficult task to undertake, and costly.

“Are you convinced that the work you describe here is in keeping with best value principles?

“We have carbon policies, we have operational issues in terms of staffing arrangements which would be extremely problematic over an extensive period of time. 

"Having looked at the possibilities, do you think that is still a viable option?"

Cllr Dowey replied: “No decision has been made. At the moment the cost of the inflation pressures are going through the roof, as you know.

"The carbon issue, that is for new buildings. Our preferred option would be for us to address that while we are at.

"But no decision been made yet. That will come back to all members for a vote.”