Eastbourne residents sick of the council’s ‘worthless’ assurances about the future of Motcombe Pool

Residents in Eastbourne have shared their frustration over the lack of answers around the future of a community swimming pool which never reopened after covid restrictions lifted.

In November last year residents were fearful for the future of the pool due to the fact no opening date was given as the country came out of the second lockdown.

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Speaking in May last year a spokesperson for the council said a condition survey was done to reveal the need for ‘a number of repairs to the pool’s infrastructure’ and an update would be given ‘as soon as possible’.

Motcombe Pool

A few months later the council confirmed the pool would not be sold, however the continued lack of certainty is causing frustration for residents.

Peter Coleman said, “The reality is that the council has no intention of re-opening the pool and that it will be sold off to developers.”

Rachel Patient set up a petition to save the pool. She said, “We want our pool back in Motcombe. We don’t want to travel by car or bus to a new one across town. We want this one, returned to us here.

“Eastbourne Council or someone with the power, please spend some money on what the locals actually want.”

Phil Hall said, “How many times have councillors said they will make an announcement ‘shortly’ or words to that effect over the past two years? Several times, but here we are with absolutely nothing but empty words - no idea as to the cost of repairs or scale of the problem, no idea as to where money will be found to fix it and no idea as to the timescale for repairs.

“Council assurances appear to be little short of worthless and it now looks certain that Motcombe Swimming Pool will be sold off, most likely for housing, and 100+ years of history, swimming and a fantastic community asset will go the same way as the Devonshire Swimming baths (which councillors also repeatedly said would not be sold off and is now a block of flats) due to councillor’s neglect, dishonesty and financial incompetence.

“Angry doesn’t begin to cover it!”

Phil also pointed out Eastbourne Borough Council’s financial situation.

According to the official government website, the council was ‘one of a small number of local authorities to request exceptional financial support during the Covid-19 pandemic’.

The site said, “The government agreed to the support, conditional on an external assurance review.

“On June 30 the Secretary of State announced an external assurance review of Eastbourne Borough Council’s financial position led by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).”

Councillor Stephen Holt, deputy leader of Eastbourne Borough Council and finance portfolio holder, said, “I can once again reassure and reaffirm that there are no plans to sell Motcombe Pool. As a council we are very much aware of the strength of feeling that this important community facility has for residents.

“The assurance review details that we have to consider our assets. This is something that as a council we already do regularly and is why I can again, reinforce that there is no intention to sell Motcombe Pool.

“However, as I have also stated as finance portfolio holder, council finances are under pressure and have been for many years and with any old buildings, we have to be really careful with how they are reopened to make sure they are suitable for the whole community and that we future proof any investment. Our recent survey of the condition of the property and equipment has shown that the equipment is not fit for purpose and needs to be replaced. Given the environmental emergency as well, it is only right that this is done to future proof the building.

Councillors and officers have been meeting frequently to talk about Motcombe Pool and how it can have a sustainable model of operation. As part of this we have sought meetings with experts, including Swim England, Sport England and Wave Leisure.

“I appreciate residents frustration at the time this is taking. But, with anything of importance and financial commitment, we want to make sure that all possibilities are explored and we will update residents with a proposal shortly.”