It has come to light that Councillors on Brighton & Hove City Council’s King Alfred Project Board were misled by Officers on Sport England’s position on dividable 50m pools.
The Project Board’s initial report in May (see 3.14 on attachment) contained claims that Sport England, the publicly-funded sports organisation, recommended against a 50m facility for the people of Brighton & Hove. It has now been revealed that Sport England made no such recommendations. Sport England has stated in an e-mail to Mike Weatherley MP that it only makes recommendations on swimming pools after detailed research has been carried out. No such research has been carried out in Brighton & Hove.
The revelations bring forth the question of who exactly at the Council is against building a 50m pool for Brighton & Hove. It is well known that dividable 50m pools are cheaper, more compact, more flexible and better-used than an arrangement using separate pools. Campaigners can’t understand why Officers aren’t backing the 50m option and many suspect that the answer is connected to a prejudice against high-level sporting success.
The campaign for a 50m pool in Hove has come together following discussion between local residents, sports groups, Shiverers Swimming Club, the Amateur Swimming Association and various Olympic athletes including diver Chris Mears. The 50m option has only been on the table after Conservative and Green Councillors voted to consider Mike Weatherley MP’s proposal in July (see attached Minutes).
Mike Weatherley MP said: “We all know that a dividable 50m pool is cheaper and more flexible than three little pools. The problem though is that the hidden figures against a decent 50m pool for Hove have yet to rear their heads, with residents asking if Officers are simply against competitive sport.”
Sport England said: “Sport England does not give general support to one type of pool over another, rather it makes recommendations specific to local circumstances, having looked at the evidence with the local authority and other stakeholders.” See below for more.
Mark Cannon, Chairman of Shiverers Swimming Club, said: “Our hundreds of local young swimmers fill the current small pools at the existing King Alfred. Membership is up 20% this year and if we are to help keep the Olympic momentum going then we simply need to provide them with the pool that they deserve. And the beauty is that the 50m option that swimmers are requesting costs less than building separate pools.”