The bungled construction of the William Penn Leisure Centre has been laid bare in documents obtained by the Watford Observer this week.

Work began to build two new pools, an exercise centre and a gymnasium in March 2007, it was expected to last 12 months and £4.6 million was initially budgeted for the work.

However, a series of delays and disputes meant the new facilities were not open to the public until May 2010 at a cost of £9.1 million to the taxpayer, a Freedom of Information request by the Rickmansworth Residents' Association.

Three Rivers District Council sacked developers Gee Construction Ltd in January 2009 and are preparing to take High Court action against them and architects W S Atkins.

Gee Construction sought an adjudication between themselves and the council which found problems including the backwash tanks which were the wrong size and had to be relocated on the opposite side of the road.

However, despite there being no commercial confidentiality to protect, councillors refused to discuss it at last night’s leisure and community safety policy and scrutiny committee meeting until the press and public had been excluded.

In bizarre scenes Councillor Steve Drury, who was chairing the meeting, stood up and began to walk out in protest at his fellow councillors’ refusal to stop discussing the adjudication, only to return to his seat and close the meeting.

Afterwards, Conservative Councillor David Sansom hit out at the paper, saying: "The adjudication documents that have been made public are truly shocking.

"It is a sad day when qualified professional people have condemned a Three Rivers Council project in such scathing terms.

"This is more shocking when you realise that as an elected Councillor I have never been told any of this before and only now by Gee Construction and not TRDC."

Councillor Tony Barton added: "I stood up in full council and said you are building the wrong project in the wrong place.

"I have said publically if this costs less than £10 million I will give £1,000 to the chairman’s charity, sadly I feel I won’t be spending my £1,000."

The adjudication notes that in October 2008 Ian Marshall, Contracts Manager for Gee reported: "Almost every part of the site was unable to be constructed in accordance with the contract programme and that each area was the subject of variations, ongoing delays and disruption."

Three Rivers District Council eventually sacked Gee from the project in January 2009 but the adjudicator Anthony Bingham noted the ‘relatively modest amount of work left’ and said Gee could have finished as early as April 2009.

He wrote: "When a Contractor, as here, has been seriously delayed and handicapped by relevant events, he is simply proceeding as best he can. "That date in April is probably a reasonable date to hit practical completion."

A High Court date is expected late in 2013 and TRDC says it is seeking mediation early next year to avoid a full hearing.

The council’s chief executive Steven Halls said: "Adjudications are a means of dispute resolution in the construction industry on narrowly defined aspects of a project. "This adjudication has no bearing on the overall case against Gee Construction which is set down for trial in late 2013.

" In order to avoid an expensive and costly court case, Three Rivers District Council has been instrumental in securing the agreement of Gee Construction Ltd and W S Atkins to a three-way mediation in January 2013.

"This is the second mediation we have organised, the first having failed through no fault of Three Rivers District Council in early 2012. "As we continue to seek to resolve the outstanding areas of dispute on behalf of our Council Tax payers, we are cautiously confident that Gee and Atkins will have a more constructive approach to the mediation on this occasion. "In the meantime, any further judicial process, including adjudications, has been suspended for three months by mutual agreement so that mediation can proceed without distraction"