Pool changes are approved amid spat over voting

DM17313663a.jpg. Councillors angry at changes to plans for new Littlehampton Leisure Centre. Photo by Derek Martin. SUS-170321-183347008
DM17313663a.jpg. Councillors angry at changes to plans for new Littlehampton Leisure Centre. Photo by Derek Martin. SUS-170321-183347008

Changes to plans for Littlehampton’s new leisure centre have been approved – despite concerns they could diminish the flagship project.

Tweaks to the design were largely due to the discovery of the precise location of a sewage pipe, resulting in a narrower pool and reduced overall floorspace.

But Littlehampton Town Council objected to revised plans for the Sea Road facility, fearing other changes, including the removal of solar panels, were down to cost cutting.

Town councillor Derrick Chester told Arun District Council’s development control committee last Wednesday: “We understand the rotation of the building due to the location of a sewage pipe was the whole point, however other things seem to have crept in, described as ‘being due to budget constraints and price optimisation’.”

Councillor Paul Wells argued reducing the width of the pool from 17 metres to 16.5 metres could downgrade its competition status.

Arun has since confirmed the pool was ‘always intended’ to have the lower ‘community pool’ status, over ‘competition status’. It said the level of seating had never supported the upgraded status.

Cabinet member for planning and infrastructure Ricky Bower said the changes were vital to ensuring Arun kept the pool on the seafront.

He said: “Basically if we don’t agree these changes then that pool will have to go somewhere else. As the community insist on it being locating where it is being proposed now then we have no alternative but to accept these changes.”

The plans were approved by 12 votes to two abstentions.

The vote was marred by a spat between chairman Jacqui Maconachie and the abstainers, Mr Wells and councillor Jim Brooks.

“I see it’s our usual two against,” Mrs Maconachie said, prior to the duo voting.

“Have you got a problem with that,” Mr Wells replied.

Mr Brooks said he objected to the chairman ‘predetermining’ his vote with her ‘off-cuff remark’, while Mr Wells said it was ‘totally outrageous’.

Mrs Maconachie said: “Well, do put in a formal complaint. There are occasions when your behaviour is outside of the realms of acceptability.”

The Tory chairman previously apologised for referring to some in the public gallery as ‘the rabble’.

Mr Chester also penned a democracy-themed Facebook post in September, in which he compared her attitude to public debate to the ‘North Korea’ dictatorship.