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Doubts cast over whether Hackney Council will recoup £1.5m lido costs after Britain's oldest builder ceases trading

PUBLISHED: 17:53 04 July 2019

London Fields Lido:Picture Ken Mears

London Fields Lido:Picture Ken Mears

Archant

The building firm that renovated London Fields Lido in 2007 has ceased trading - which could jeopardise Hackney Council's attempts to sue them for £1.5m.

London Fields LidoLondon Fields Lido

R Durtnell and Sons Ltd, Britain's oldest builder, renovated London Fields Lido in 2007 at a cost of £3m, using several sub-contractors to carry out specialist work on the open air pool.

But over the summer of 2016 tiles began to crack and come away from the pool wall, and the council had to employ another contractor to replace them.

Initial tests were inconclusive but last year results showed the firm, which was based in Kent, could be to blame for inadequate work a decade ago.

"Having received the final report from these tests, we are pursuing a claim around the original pool tank failures which we believe relate to the refurbishment works undertaken in 2007," the council said last year.

Now an announcement that the firm is going into liquidation has called into question whether the council will be able to recoup any money.

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A council spokesperson told the Gazette: "We have just received notification from press reports that this company has ceased trading and we are currently seeking legal advice as to the consequences this may have on the council's position."

In 2016 temporary barriers were installed to stabilise the crumbling tiles, and tests later found problems with the stone between the pool tank and the render holding the tiles.

The council has refused to share the report with the Gazette, citing legal privilege.

The pool was shut for over a year from October 2016 to December 2017 - much to the frustration of swimmers - because of delays in appointing a contractor, delays with completing the works, and then delays because the council was not satisfied that firm was up to scratch, either.

In October 2017, two months before it finally reopened, the council said the work was shoddy and could be deemed to be unsafe, with uneven tiles and electrical problems throughout the building.

Companies can cease trading for various reasons including a director's retirement or ill health, ongoing financial problems, or simply because the company serves no further purpose.

The Gazette has contacted one of the four directors of R Durtnell and Sons, Alex Durtnell, to ask why his firm has ceased trading.

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