A young apprentice and a placement student today helped highlight Belfast City Council’s ongoing £105 million Leisure Transformation Programme (LTP) by joining Councillor Deirdre Hargey at the Robinson and Andersonstown Leisure Centres.
Mark McGrogan, employed as an apprentice as part of a social clause under Belfast City Council’s LTP cut the first sod at the Robinson Centre with Councillor Hargey as John Paul Higgins, Senior Contracts Manager from Heron Bros and Gareth Kirk, from GLL,
which will operate the new centre when it is completed looked on.
Heron Bros placement student, Caren McCormack, joined her at Andersonstown.
The new Robinson Centre represents an investment of £20 million by Belfast City Council. The centre will specialise in aquatics and will provide, among other things, a 25 metre by eight lane gala pool with 250 spectator seats; a learner pool with moveable floor and diving provision; sports hall; café; community facility an outside provision including a five-a-side pitch.
Councillor Hargey said: : “Today’s event is part of our ongoing £105 million Leisure Transformation Programme which is modernising our leisure services and programmes and providing seven new facilities across Belfast, each with its own unique selling point.
“It is a citywide strategy, offering unique facilities, and minimising duplication of provision to ensure balanced, value for money investment.
“The investment is not only in the health and well-being of the people of Belfast but part of our social commitment.
“The facilities are vital to the future of our city but equally vital are the opportunities they provide, particularly to our young people like Mark for employment and for Karen to help in achieving their life goals,” added Councillor Hargey.
Grainne O’Kane, HR Manager at Heron Bros commented: “We are delighted that Mark has joined the Heron Bros team on a Level 5 Civil Engineering Apprenticeship programme. Mark is embarking on an exciting journey with us on Robinson Centre Project developing a career that can last a lifetime.
“Apprenticeships are an important way for young people to ease the transition between the world of education and the world of work. Mark can look forward to putting the theory he learns at South West Regional College into practice with Heron Bros. He will develop job skills that cannot be taught in a classroom and most importantly gain valuable experience whilst learning.
“As a company, Heron Bros aims to maximise the positive impact we can have in the communities in which we work, providing apprenticeship and placement opportunities is one way of achieving this.”
The work at the Robinson Centre forms part of an overall investment of £40 million in leisure facilities in the east of the city. A public consultation on the proposed designs for the restoration and extension of Templemore Baths and the redevelopment of Avoniel Leisure Centre is due to start in the coming weeks.
Councillor Hargey also travelled to west Belfast where work is underway on the new Andersonstown Leisure Centre. The £25 million investment here will focus on water-based family fun with fast paced water slides; a surf simulator and children’s wet play adventure area.
In addition to the investment at Andersonstown, work is also due to start on a £15 million redevelopment of Brook Activity Centre in the Colin area in the New Year. While this new facility will focus on outdoor sports provision with a number of 3G pitches, it will also include a 25 metre pool – bringing this amenity to the local area for the first time.
Gareth Kirk from GLL said: “We are extremely proud of our ongoing commitment to delivering new and innovative facilities to communities in Belfast. We look forward to seeing more people participating in an active lifestyle by providing first class leisure services like these.”