OUT IN THE FIELD: Sovereign Centre so tired it no longer has a pulse

The Sovereign Centre's days could well be numbered
The Sovereign Centre's days could well be numbered

I had more than a little chuckle to myself this week when the Sovereign Centre was described as “looking tired” during an interview about the plans to build a new place next to it and then bulldoze the original. This is a family newspaper so I can’t use the words I would normally utter to describe the place but let’s just say the place is so tired it no longer has a pulse. As I am not the only person to express that view, I am sure locals will welcome the news the town is going to have a state of the art sparkling new leisure centre. It’s certainly about time. I remember covering the opening of the Sovereign Centre as a cub reporter back in the 1980s when Princess Diana cut the ribbon and was presented with a posy of flowers by former tourism supremo boss Ron Cussons’ daughter Jessica. Over the years the centre has served the population and visitors well. My children learnt to swim there, I used the gym (yes, really) and in no way do I want to knock the hard work the lovely folk at Leisure Trust or Serco have put in over the years. But in recent times the icing has certainly worn off the gingerbread, the interior is looking more than tired and the council has made the sensible decision to build a new centre rather than revamp the existing one. As the old saying goes, you can’t put glitter on a turd. And you can’t polish one either.

I was at the Devonshire Park last week and was lucky enough to catch Blackeyed Theatre’s production of Frankenstein which combined great acting with stunning puppetry. As if the show wasn’t good enough, the whole experience was enhanced when I went off to find the toilet and – courtesy of ushers Jacquie and Carol – discovered a Victorian toilet up in the Gods which is a beautiful original Thomas Crapper cistern. Not that I am keen on going into men’s toilets, but the ladies also reliably informed me that the gents’ facility on the ground floor at the back of the auditorium also contain Thomas Crappers and have been refurbished to a high standard. Thankfully they weren’t ripped out during the theatre’s recent facelift.

While I was at the theatre last Friday, several friends who support Brighton and Hove Albion were left stranded at Falmer after train services were cancelled by Southern at the end of the match. It was a situation that ultimately could have had serious consequences as there were many young, elderly and disabled people who were victims of this chaos, and Albion boss Paul Barber has now urged the government and MPs to step in and resolve the rail dispute which has blighted passengers for much of 2016. The club’s operations team did eventually get the vast majority of fans home, but there were reports of some away fans having to sleep rough at Brighton Station, having missed connections, and children being forced to walk home the six miles from Falmer to Lewes. It’s becoming more and more unacceptable.

Finally this week, a very happy 17th birthday to Son Number 2, Joe Scullion who is celebrating his 17th birthday today. Have a good one Joe-Joe and don’t party too hard.

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