THIS is the first look inside Brighton’s new coronavirus testing centre which was built with just 48 hours’ notice.

The East Brighton Park site was constructed in just five hours on Monday after ill residents in the city were advised to drive as far as Cardiff and Leicester for tests.

Tom Stovold is the director of the Newick-based Southern Events Group, one of several organisations tasked with assembling the structure.

READ MORE>>>Queues form at new East Brighton Park walk-through testing centre minutes after opening

He said there could be other sites across Brighton and Hove “as demand grows”.

Mr Stovold said: “We were given 48 hours’ notice and went to the site to build it.
“Other contractors provided things like portable cabins and fencing.

“It’s a big team effort and took about five hours.”

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Mr Stovold said the company had been “doing quite a lot of these installations” and had played a part in the construction and removal of the testing site at the Amex.

The 35-year-old businessman said the new site “might be up and running today” but this has not officially been announced.

He said: “They are calling it a ‘walk-through testing centre’.

“There are individual booths, 15 individual cubicles where people will be given a test - it is quick and safe and there is good airflow in the structure.

“These have been rapidly deployed to be able to increase testing.

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“There could well be more in Brighton and Hove as demand grows.”

Earlier this month, Brighton and Hove MPs slammed the “testing fiasco” as residents were told to travel great distances to visit their nearest available test centres following the removal of the testing site at the Amex in late August.

As a result, the city’s MPs, including Brighton Kemptown’s Lloyd Russell-Moyle lobbied the government to provide more testing facilities in Brighton and Hove.

In a letter to the Labour MP on Monday, the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed the opening of the new site at East Brighton Park.

In the message Lord James Bethell, parliamentary under secretary of state at the department, stated: “I wanted to write to you to confirm that we are opening a local test site in your constituency at the East Brighton Park Tennis Courts over the coming days.

“I hope this site will make it easier for many people in Brighton to access testing.

“We have worked with clinical advisors and Public Health England to ensure robust governance for the trial.

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“The site forms part of a pilot to open new ‘walk-through’ local test sites in England which are easily accessible by foot or on a bike.

“The site compliments the regional drive-through testing network across the UK and home testing, which can both be booked through the government’s online portal.

“In addition, mobile testing units are also travelling the UK, responding to increased regional demand for testing and supporting hard to reach areas.

“Before selecting this site, we have engaged with local stakeholders to narrow down the location and identify a suitable site.

“This includes the local authority and NHS stakeholders.

“In order to reach a decision, we have considered which site is most suitable for safely testing as many people as possible, and how long it is available for.

“This expansion of testing supports the existing NHS and Public Health England infrastructure, which has more than doubled its testing capacity since the coronavirus pandemic began, supporting our commitment to expand local direction of national testing resources and move to a more locally owned and delivered testing model.”

Mr Russell-Moyle celebrated the successful lobbying of the government for increased testing facilities in the city, hailing the new site as “really good” for the city.

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But he said there were two factors which must be considered to ensure the success of the testing centre.

He asked for the availability of free parking at the site, and also urged the government to "limit tests by postcode and not by testing centre”.

He said: “Brighton has asked the government for more testing, but that has not been agreed yet.

“We need the centres but we also need the testing slots to be released by the national government.

“We will keep on this over the next few weeks to ensure testing is happening in Brighton.

“I know the director for public health for Brighton and Hove City Council is working hard for Brighton on this.”