East Sussex’s only dive pool is set to close following Eastbourne Borough Council plan to replace the Sovereign centre.
The council have approved plans for a renovation to take place in the centre’s car park, a new swimming facility has been included. But the redevelopment has failed to incorporate a diving pool and has left the Eastbourne diving team aggrieved.
Head Diving Coach, Tony Gaskell, has been coaching at the centre for the last six years and feels that the change is short-sighted:
“There will be no diving. It will have a detrimental effect on the whole of East Sussex and on the County competitions.
“At the moment I produce the most divers and we are winning everything that is available within Sussex.
“I have people coming as far as Hastings and Brighton. The divers will be devastated, I’ve put an awful lot of work into them for the last six years, started it from scratch and they will be very upset.”
Gaskell considers the sport to be on the rise and that the regeneration will deter people from taking up the sport:
“There will be no facilities for children or young people in the whole of the County. It’s an amazing sport.
“Yes, it’s a minority sport, no-one is arguing against that. It’s a delightful sport and it is really on the go, there has been a massive interest since the last two Olympic Games.”
The team uses the pool up to three times a week. The divers are aged between eight and 16. The closure of the pool will mean, if they wish to continue, they will have to travel as far as Tunbridge Wells. Leader of the Eastbourne Borough Council, David Tutt, believes that the construction of a new dive pool, will be of great cost.
“The reason why the dive pool wasn’t put into the plans was purely cost, you’re looking at a diving pool which is greatly used, the cost of that is about £1 million. I have had discussions with the people interested with diving and we will look at that again.”
The replacement will cost £24.5million and is set to include three swimming pools, a trampoline park, a clip ‘n’ climb zone and a Flowrider- which if built will be the only one of its kind within the South East.
The refurbishment is expected to be finished by 2019 but there have been many questions regarding where the £24.5million investment has come from. Tutt confirms that the council will be accepting funds from elsewhere.
“We will be borrowing, but if you look at the cost of the existing pool, the existing pool costs us £350,000 a year to support. The business case that we’ve got for the new pool is that the repayment and the interest of the capital sum, will be likely to break even.
“So, we will actually be £350,000 better off on the revenue side and have a new facility which has got to be good news for the Council Tax payers of Eastbourne,” he added.
By James Lassey