Saltdean Lido campaigners hold fun day in the park

Posted On 26 May 2012 at 12:54 pm

The Friends of Saltdean Lido are holding a free fun day at the Oval Park today (Saturday 26 May) from 11am to 4pm.

The event in the park behind the Lido attracted 5,000 people last year and hopes are high this year with the sunny weather.

The fun day is sandwiched between two concerts last night and tonight, forming part of the Brighton Fringe Festival.

Last night the eight-piece South Coast Soul Revue played Motown and soul favourites in the marquee in Oval Park.

Tonight the Vox Beatles are providing the music. Tickets are £12.

The new mayor, Councillor Bill Randall, is expected to open the Fun Day.

Activities and attractions include orbing on water, a children’s petting zoo, a display by owls, mini-golf, pony rides and go-karting. There will be more than 60 arts, craft and food stalls and a licensed bar as well as music in the marquee – and dance lessons.

Save Saltdean Lido campaigners Jules Shepherd, Bridget Fishleigh, Rebecca Crook and Sue Tyrrell

Rebecca Crook, who chairs the Save Saltdean Lido campaign, said: “This was such a fun event last year bringing together the local community for a common cause and clearly demonstrating how important the campaign is to save Saltdean Lido and protect it from development.

“We will be launching a new petition at the event and hope to get several thousand signatures which will call on the city council to take immediate legal action against the leaseholder.”

Ms Crook, 34, described how she came to be involved in trying to save the Lido.

She said that within six months of moving to the area she had emailed the council about the rundown state of Saltdean Lido. It’s fair to say that she wasn’t satisfied with the response.

Then the Lido’s leaseholder Dennis Audley spelt out plans to develop the site.

She was one of thousands to object. And she has since become a dogged and doughty campaigner to preserve the iconic Lido and its art deco buildings.

There have been signs of progress. In the past fortnight, for instance, the leaseholder has held talks with the council about the possibility of surrendering the Lido’s lease.

Officials were concerned, among other things, about the cost of taking over the 125-year lease which was granted just 15 years ago.

But independent assessors suggested that the surrender value was zero. The Lido needs money spent on it – not least to comply with the rules around listed buildings.

Not surprisingly Mr Audley, a Buckinghamshire-based accountant, disputes the valuation. But he has accepted the idea of talks about handing the site back.

He would still like to build flats there but the council said that this was unacceptable.

The loss of goodwill generated by his original plans and the associated campaigning and publicity has, he believes, hurt the Lido’s finances under his stewardship.

Ms Crook said: “The campaign started in March 2010 as a result of a public exhibition when the leaseholder announced his plans to fill in the pool with concrete and build 102 flats.

“Within 24 hours of that meeting Sue Tyrrell set up a Facebook page and by the end of the weekend there were about 3,000 people on it.

“None of us knew each other before all this. It really is community activism at its best.”

The campaign group has highlighted the state of repair at the Lido which is now on the English Heritage “at risk” register.

And it has complained that the pool is not always open when it should be – a claim disputed by Mr Audley.

Ms Crook has seemed tireless in her campaigning at times but she holds down a day job in London working as the business development and marketing director of a digital marketing group.

She said: “I’m involved in business planning and strategy and new business development, launching new products and services – nothing to do with swimming pools.”

But there are aspects of her work that have proved useful as she has set about campaigning professionally.

She and her colleagues have worked up a business plan for taking over the Lido and running it. It involves not just operating the swimming pool but ensuring that the current levels of community use are enhanced.

The fun day today and the concerts are, in part, a break in the pace and tone of the campaign, and in part a taste of what to expect from a community-run Lido.

 

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