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Emails reveal delay in repairs to central heating system are being blamed for damage that forced Lichfield leisure centre to shut

Delays in repairing a central heating system have been blamed for causing water damage to a fire alarm system which has left Friary Grange Leisure Centre closed, it has been revealed.

Friary Grange Leisure Centre
Friary Grange Leisure Centre

Freedom Leisure, which manages the site on behalf of Lichfield District Council, confirmed that a problem with a fire alarm panel meant the facility had been forced to keep shut since last week.

But now emails seen by Lichfield Live reveal that issues with the central heating system are being blamed for the closure.

In the emails, Richard King, director of place at Lichfield District Council, wrote to Matt Allman, headteacher of The Friary School saying: “The failure appears to be a result of the delay in repairing the heating system.”

His email came after the school privately – and publicly – raised concerns over the decision to shut facilities used by the school at short notice and with little communication.

A tweet from the Friary School raising concerns over the closure

Further emails from a council officer said condensation caused by a lack of heating over a prolonged period of time had been behind the damage to the fire alarm system.

“The panel has been disconnected by Lantern, the new contract company procured by Staffordshire County Council to carry out its maintenance,” the official wrote.

“The fire alarm panel is situated in the front lobby of the building and feedback from the fire alarm maintenance engineer suggests water damage has caused its failure.

“Upon inspection there is no evidence of water escape in the roof void. At room level it does appear though that there are beads of water running down the walls and as a consequence it has also run down the wiring conduit and into the panel.

“We are of the opinion that the fault has been caused by condensation due to the lack of heating over a prolonged period along with lack of ventilation. I’m sure an engineer would confirm this.”

“Proper and open communication”

It is still unclear when the leisure centre will be opened again, but Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Ray said better communication was needed.

“There was an issue that the school would not have access to the sports hall – and this is needed for mock exams that are happening this week. This has been resolved.

“Headteacher Mr Allman’s main issue and concern though is the communication from Freedom Leisure to the school. The school simply received an email yesterday at 4.30pm to say that the Friary Grange Leisure Centre would be closed – and there have been other previous incidents of poor communication, for example when the car park in front of the school was blocked.

“I have raised this with Lichfield District Council and asked them to get a commitment from Freedom Leisure that there will be proper and open communication with the school going forward.”

A Freedom Leisure spokesperson added: “We are working with Staffordshire County Council and our leisure partner Lichfield District Council to be able to reopen the facilities as quickly as possible,”

“We offer our most sincere apologies for the inconvenience caused and thank customers for their patience.”

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  1. Sminty

    14th February, 2019 at 2:30 pm

    The headteacher of the Friary is a bit of an idiot. We went to an open evening about 4 months ago where he (dressed as Del Boy) proceeded to tell parents that unlike other schools we may be visiting – he wasn’t about to sell his school to us like a dodgy salesman. Then proceeded to sell his school to us…….

  2. MiaB

    14th February, 2019 at 5:50 pm

    Well I would sooner know my child was in a safe building, than allowing them in a BUILDING with NO fire alarm, they are only putting the safety of the children, customers and staff first, which I’m sure as a Headmaster of a school should be obvious, I certainly wouldn’t want my child sitting mock exams or doing sports in a BUILDING that wasn’t deemed safe #commonsense

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