A mum of two has described Brighton and Hove’s rundown public swimming pools as “Soviet-era” and wants to see improvements.
Nicole Anderson, who swims weekly at the King Alfred and the Prince Regent, wants Brighton and Hove City Council to revamp the Hove site because the pool is cold and falling apart.
She plans to ask councillors to redevelop the King Alfred as it is “at the end of its lifespan and not fit for purpose anymore” at a meeting on Thursday (3 February).
Mrs Anderson, whose family are from Germany, said that the swimming facilities in Germany were always modern and clean.
A German friend told her when she first saw the King Alfred that she cried – and Mrs Anderson said: “Not even in the poorest town would you find something like that.
“In Germany, it’s just normal to have really modern clean and good swimming facilities. Not just tourism but stuff for the local residents.
“The King Alfred looks like it belongs in the Soviet era from the outside and inside. The only reason I go there is for my kids. I shouldn’t have to drive to Burgess Hill for the Triangle.”
An incident at the pool prompted her to ask the question. After leaving the King Alfred with her sons aged eight and nine, they saw a man shouting angrily about the pool.
The man was shouting that it had been falling apart for 20 years – and now she wants to know whether there are plans to revamp or upgrade it.
As an avid swimmer, Mrs Anderson was concerned to read a report from Swim England last year that found 40 per cent of the country’s swimming facilities were under threat.
She would like to see something in Brighton and Hove that would work as a tourist attraction similar to the proposed Therme Manchester or Tropical Islands near Berlin, with its indoor beaches.
Mrs Anderson said: “Why not build a tourism attraction we can use all year round. Manchester is getting this most amazing swimming facility that will bring in the income all year round.
“It doesn’t matter what the weather is. Let’s face it, the weather here isn’t great even in the summer.”
Various ideas to improve the King Alfred have come and gone for generations. The most recent scheme collapsed in October 2019, when Crest Nicholson pulled out of a £228 million project with the Starr Trust.
The council spent years working with Crest Nicholson and the Starr Trust on plans to build homes and a new leisure centre at the site in Kingsway.
In October 2019, former council leader Nancy Platts said that a cross-party project board would explore plans for new leisure facilities.
Last July, the council published its Sports Facilities Investment Plan 2021-31, recommended the “creation of three large multi-sports hub facilities to serve the city”. They included a 25-metre eight-lane pool to replace the King Alfred.
Mrs Anderson’s question goes before councillors at a “virtual public engagement” session which is due to start at 4.30pm on Thursday. The meeting is scheduled to be webcast on the council’s website.