WORK on repairing the leaky 25-year-old roof of one of the town’s leisure centres is due to start next week.

Members of Swindon Council’s cabinet voted unanimously in February to sanction the funds for the Link Centre to get a new roof as part of the council’s capital programme for 2011 to 2012.

The work can’t come soon enough for some users who have seen events ruined by the recent bad weather – despite being held inside the centre.

Edward Harrison, 71, of Haydon Wick, was forced to put his umbrella up inside to protect himself from the foul weather when he attended a Jubilee Tea Dance at the beginning of the month.

He said that he has often seen buckets around the centre catching dripping water and cones out warning people of wet floors.

“We held a Jubilee Tea Dance at the Link Centre recently but had to bring foul weather protection because of the leaking roof,” he said.

“I use the link centre for exercise classes and my wife and I go to the tea club and we have been using the centre for seven years.

“We have noticed for a while that the roof has been leaking and we have often gone in to exercise classes and there have been buckets and cones out, which significantly reduce the area to exercise in.

“The most annoying part is they seem to carry out internal repairs without addressing the main problem of the external roof, which is a waste of tax payers money.

“It is such a shame that internal repairs carried out to false ceilings are very quickly damaged because the roof has not been made watertight.”

Opened in 1985, the award-winning building was cantilevered – meaning the roof is hung from pillars – to maximise space, and was designed to be as energy efficient as possible.

But recently visitors have become accustomed to avoiding buckets of water catching leaks.

An 18-week project to address the problem starts on Monday, and is expected to cost the council around £1m.

A Swindon Borough Council spokesman said: “The Link Centre is an ageing facility and is in need of refurbishment.

“The council’s cabinet agreed last year to spend up to £1m so that major repairs could be carried out on the roof and associated steelwork. The work will be done in stages and work to redecorate the steel frame of the building will start on Monday and is expected to last for 18 weeks.

“We are close to finalising the tender process for the next phase of the work, which will involve the re-roofing and replacing the skylights.

“We are not anticipating any disruption to customers while the work is going on and the leisure centre will be fully operational throughout.”