Proposals for a new Sovereign Centre for Eastbourne have been approved, in theory.
The Borough Council’s Cabinet discussed the matter last night (13 December), with a view for details to be discussed at a later date, but overall it was decided the town does need an updated leisure centre.
It was felt that the prospect of a new centre, which will be built next to the existing site, was an exciting one for the town and something which is long overdue. However, councillors also believe it must stand up on its own as a business case.
One area that is raising concerns for Eastbourne Swimming Club, is the size of the main pool. Under the current proposals, they would have less water space than at present, which would also see the pool fail to comply with competition standards, meaning galas could no longer be held there.
Councillor Alan Shuttleworth said, “It’s an exciting key plank to make Eastbourne THE place to visit and live. I understand there’s an issue with the size of the main pool and that needs looking at. I am sure we can work with groups to keep everyone happy.”
The Borough Council would also be looking to bring in a new operator for the centre from 2019, when the current agreement ends. They feel it would offer activities during wet weather and meet the needs of young people in the town, with the introduction of activities such as trampolining and a Flow Rider.
A spokesperson for Eastbourne Swimming Club told Eastbourne Buzz losing swimming galas would be a great loss for the town, with the club hosting five championships there a year, along with two to three open meets, which host some 500-600 swimmers each time for both children and adults. Other clubs also use the pool for their galas, along with private schools, regional galas and the Eastbourne Schools Gala, which is supported by Eastbourne College. The Club believes the Sovereign Centre pool is so popular because of their facilities, including electronic timing, lane ropes and Olympic starting blocks. They say the nearest facility to Eastbourne to boast this is in Crawley.
The Club also believes the loss of the diving pool would be detrimental, as it would see the scuba club having to move out and would take away a teaching facility for activities such as life-saving.
Whilst Eastbourne Swimming Club welcomes a new Sovereign Centre, they hope the council will listen to their concerns and will reconsider the size of the main pool. Given carte blanche, the Club would suggest an eight-lane gala compliant pool, and a training pool with a variable bottom, which would allow for all abilities to learn, including babies, whilst allowing scuba activities, diving, aqua aerobics and life-saving, as well as teaching young people how to become swimming instructors.
Speaking after the meeting, Leader of the Council, Councillor David Tutt said he had heard their concerns loud and clear and wants to work with them to ensure everyone is happy with the design for the new centre as it moves forward.