OUT IN THE FIELD: Eastbourne divers not on crest of a wave over plans

The Sovereign Centre in Eastbourne

The Sovereign Centre in Eastbourne

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Not everyone is splashing around with joy now that the plans to build a new leisure centre next to the tired looking Sovereign Centre have been approved by powers that be at Eastbourne council. Included in the new building is two swimming pools, including a fun pool and wave machine, a trampoline park, 130 station gymnasium, clip‘n’climb zone and possibly a FlowRider so people can surf on artificial waves. But nowhere on the wish list is the retention of the diving pool which has caused some upset among mums of promising young divers who currently use the pool up to three times a week. After Tom Daley’s success in the London 2012 Olympics, the Sovereign Centre saw a huge rise in the number of divers using the pool as part of the Games’ effect with a 65 per cent increase. Diving competitions have also been held there. The event had a strong turn-out, the youngest of the competitors aged just six-years-old. Even now the Sussex Synchro champion trains there along with the one metre and three metre champions. The Eastbourne Dive Team has grown in numbers and members recently won gold, silver and bronze medals at the National Champion Dive Competition at Cheltenham. One mother is furious at the absence of a diving pool because it isn’t financially viable and says dive pools in other centres have retractable floors above them so they can be used for other purposes with a pool for diving, swimming and water aerobics below. The lovely diving folk at the Sovereign Centre have even offered yours truly a try-out diving session with them to prove their point. Sadly, due a terrible fear of heights and having to get semi-naked in public, my days of diving are over but here’s hoping those councillors and officers who are on the design panel for the final new look centre will take the divers’ concerns on board. Literally.

The Herald Pub of the Year was announced this week and I was delighted to see Heidi Lane at the Crown & Anchor on the seafront clinched the title this year. Heidi has done great things with the pub since taking it over and if you haven’t been there for the delicious home cooked food and hospitality, make sure you do pop in for a festive tipple.

If you’re one of the hardy souls who like walking along the coast from Birling Gap to Eastbourne, do take heed of the warning from coastguards to allow more time after the stairs at Cow Gap were burnt down in an apparent arson attack at the weekend. The access from the headland at Cow Gap to the beach has been completely destroyed so walkers have to continue along to Holywell to reach terra firma. Those who like a stroll should add a good 15-20 minutes on to their journey I am told, to avoid being cut off by the tide and more importantly to save the embarrassment of having to be plucked to safety by our hard-working coastguards and volunteer lifeboat crews.

Finally this week, farewell to two lovely ladies from Tesco Express in Grove Road. Shop assistants Katie and Nicola are both off to pastures new. Good luck, girls.

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