ARUN District Council hired consultants to prepare a communications strategy for the controversial potential relocation of Littlehampton’s Swimming and Sports Centre.
Chief executive Nigel Lynn asked image consultants Bell Pottinger to prepare a PR strategy for the possible move to Daisyfields in October, a freedom of information request revealed.
Arun commissioned a report on the feasibility of two locations for the new facility in January, despite nearly three quarters of residents favouring keeping it in Sea Road.
The council has denied a decision has already been made.
Arun councillor and Lib Dem majority group leader on Littlehampton Town Council Dr James Walsh said: “It is a shocking waste of public money all round.
“Arun’s own survey showed that around 70 per cent of residents wanted the new swimming pool built on the current seafront site, as did Littlehampton Town Council and Rustington Parish Council.
“But Arun is wasting money on more overpaid consultants to tell them what they have already decided, and then more money to soften up residents opposed to the plans.”
Bell Pottinger undertook a total of 13 weeks of work for Arun. Mr Lynn’s email urged the council’s communications team to ‘maximise’ their value by working in advance of ‘possible issues’, with a list including the pool move.
An Arun spokesman denied the email suggested a decision had been made.
She said: “Two sites are currently being evaluated as it is important that we get the right site for this fantastic project. In October, 2014, the council asked Bell Pottinger for their views on a communications strategy for the Cornfield/Daisyfield site in the event that the recommendation of the report was for a change of location. As previously stated, there is no favoured location at this stage and the council has not yet received the feasibility study.”
Mr Walsh believes it has been delayed until after the elections because he expects Arun to favour a move to Daisyfields.