Did you know that 74 per cent of all adults in Brighton and Hove are physically active at the recommended levels? People maintain their fitness in different ways, but for many having the option to swim all year round is vital.

I, like many others, learnt to swim in public pools and use them as an affordable outing for family fun and fitness. Being active in water helps people’s physical and mental health, improves community cohesion and reduces pressure on the NHS.

I’ve seen how many people depend on our pools – the elderly, those with disabilities, and children and families. Our pools are also home to swimming clubs, artistic swimming and diving.

A great initiative that a Labour government introduced in 2009 was Children Swim For Free, which enabled all families to gain free swimming for under 16s.

Most of us don’t need glamorous pool surroundings, just a clean, safe and affordable facility that’s accessible for all. It’s absolutely crucial that all our leisure centres are fit for purpose and available, particularly as we emerge from the pandemic.

Sadly, our facilities are ageing and one of our two 25 metre pools, the Prince Regent, was unable to open at the beginning of April just as lockdown was relaxed due to a major flooding incident in the plant room. Repair works are ongoing and at the time of writing it is unfortunately very unclear when the pool will open. This places huge strain on other leisure facilities and is severely limiting access for many to this vital community resource.

I am very pleased that the council are currently looking at plans to develop three new sports hubs. We all know how long some strategic plans can take to materialise so I’m glad they also recognise that existing facilities must remain operational. We are pressurising the Green administration to do something about the limited pool availability and we are demanding the Prince Regent pool opens as soon as possible.

Public leisure pools are only one part of the picture – we are keen to encourage our local businesses to continue to develop the city’s health and wellbeing infrastructure, be it boutique yoga studios, indoor and outdoor gyms, spas or bigger initiatives such as Sea Lanes which has planning permission to transform the former Peter Pan site in Madeira Drive into a permanent 50m open-air pool by 2022.

Sea Lanes say their new National Open Water Swimming Centre will be accessible to all and will be supported by small business units suitable for retail, health and fitness as well as a food court with street food kiosks and an outdoor seating area.

I see this as a real positive in terms of providing more swimming facilities in the city and in terms of regenerating the seafront in the east of the city, giving a much-needed boost to our businesses in Madeira Drive.

Regenerating our seafront is a legacy Labour are proud of from our time in administration – from Black Rock to Shelter Hall to the Madeira Terraces, we invested in rejuvenating the seafront. At Budget Council this year we brought forward proposals to build more beach huts and chalets to raise funds for the restoration of Madeira Terraces.

Sea Lanes and Yellowave will also play a key role in the regeneration of our seafront. On the Western Esplanade, we have succeeded in generating funding for an exciting landscape design which will provide a framework for improvements to the long neglected West Hove seafront, and we will continue to work with residents to develop other proposals to revive the whole stretch from Rottingdean to Hove Lagoon.

We are also very keen to encourage all employers in our beautiful but somewhat expensive city to sign up to the real living wage of £9.50 an hour. I was at a Brighton and Hove Living Wage campaign event last week. The campaign aims to encourage local businesses to voluntarily pay all employees the Real Living Wage of £9.50 per hour instead of the government’s national minimum of £8.91.

While this difference might seem small to some, an additional 59p an hour based on a 38-hour week equals £22.42, which makes a huge difference to so many people’s incomes. It was fantastic to learn that over 700 employers in the city have now voluntarily signed up to the scheme that is still growing as more see real benefits for their businesses, their employees and the city. I congratulate all involved.

This is a vision for the future of the city that Labour believes in strongly, and we are clear a locally led economy that keeps profit and investment in our community must be at the heart of our city’s recovery from the current unprecedented public health crisis.