Eastbourne and Willingdon MP Caroline Ansell is seeking expressions of interest from residents and groups to scope demand for Meads Sports Centre as the campaign to save the facility for the community continues.
Caroline said the key to any successful business case is to ensure there is sufficient community membership for the centre to be viable.
Most of the use is by the University of Brighton with only 20% of the time dedicated to community and members.
When the university leaves Eastbourne next year there will need to be a rapidly expanded community membership if the centre is to stay open.
The expression of interest survey is online on the MP’s website (https://www.carolineansell.co.uk/news/save-meads-sports-centre-survey) and open until 31st January. Paper copies are also available at her Town Hall office
The MP also met with University of Brighton leaders to discuss the future of Meads Sports Centre.
Vice Chancellor Debra Humphris and Head of Estates Matt Kitson both came on the Teams calls to brief the MP.
Caroline has already put two interested parties in touch with the university and it is entering into discussions with them.
On the call, the university stressed it was keen to see the sports centre handed over and remain open but reiterated it has to meet its ‘best value directive’.
It added it was continuing to engage with the borough council to meet those requirements.
“Campaign group SOMS (Save the Meads Sports Centre) and the Meads Community Association have done a brilliant job to rally members and demonstrate what an important community asset we have in The Sports Centre," said Caroline.
"I’m working with Meads Councillors Robert Smart and Jane Lamb to explore all avenues to ensure we can make the strongest case to keep it open.
“Now we must demonstrate there is wider demand and that demand will expand to fill the void left by the university leaving.
“This is why I have opened the survey so the widest possible circle of local people and groups can learn about the facilities and opportunities at the centre and express their interest. Having this data is an important steer for any organisation or company looking at taking over the centre.”
“However, time is of the essence – the university will need potential providers to now put forward credible plans in the coming weeks. The university’s local partnerships will endure past the campus move and they want this to end well for local residents.
“We also need the council to confirm plans and any planning restrictions on site. This needs to be done with urgency.”