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MP puts Olympic pool plan back on agenda for new King Alfred leisure centre
An Olympic-sized swimming pool forming part of a new multi-million-pound leisure centre is back on the cards – after the intervention of an MP.
Politicians on Brighton and Hove City Council yesterday agreed to give the go-ahead for representatives to talk to developers about the future of the controversial King Alfred site.
As it looks for a partner to create a new leisure centre in Hove, a cross-party project board had originally ruled out a 50-metre swimming pool.
However, after Hove MP Mike Weatherley made a rare step and spoke at a town hall meeting, councillors agreed not to rule out the larger option – for now.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr Weatherley said: “It costs around the same. It takes up the same amount of space.
“And, with its barriers and moveable floors, it is actually more flexible than having separate pools.
“We all surely agree that a world-class destination like Brighton and Hove should not be second place to Crawley, especially when it comes to providing excellent sporting facilities.”
Mr Weatherley attended the meeting with Mark Cannon, of Shiverers Swimming Club, who argued it could be used for competitions.
Geoffrey Bowden, chairman of the council’s economic development committee, said the 50-metre pool idea had been ruled out on “firm advice” from Sport England.
However, Coun Bowden added he was keen to listen to all views before making a final decision.
Following approval by councillors, the local authority will now talk to a number of developers before choosing its preferred option.
Coun Bowden said being open, rather than holding a closed competition, would ensure the council and city will get “best value”. He said the local authority’s decision not to limit a new leisure centre to the King Alfred site had meant a number of other developers had come forward.
A developer could be chosen by next year with work starting, at the earliest, in four years’ time.
Labour councillor Warren Morgan said: “I hope we are returning to this in ten years’ time and we’re celebrating the first five years of a new leisure centre rather than another long wait.”
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