THERE’S been double good news for the residents of Hailsham!

First, Wealden District Council has been successful in its application to the second phase of Sport England’s Swimming Pool Support Fund.

The award of more than £70,000 will help implement interventions to help improve energy efficiency at Hailsham Leisure Centre – run in partnership with Freedom Leisure – and assist the council to meet its commitment to being carbon net zero by 2050 or sooner.

The interventions include installation of PV solar to offset grid electricity usage and installing a pool cover which will reduce the heat loss from the pool, in turn reducing gas consumption and associated costs for heating the pool. The delivery of those interventions is estimated to save 16 tC02e each year.

The money has come from a second phase of funding in which £40 million of government funding was available for local authorities to invest in improving the energy efficiency of public facilities with swimming pools in the medium to long term.

Councillor Kelvin Williams, Alliance for Wealden (Liberal Democrat) and lead councillor for Public Health and Asset Management, said, “I am delighted we have received this funding which will help make environmental changes to the pool at Hailsham.

“This funding will enable the pool to become more energy efficient, perform at its best and enable us to take a step closer to becoming net zero by 2050 or sooner.”

Freedom Leisure area manager Toby Reed said, “We are pleased Wealden District Council has been successful in securing government funding via the Swimming Pool Support Fund and we look forward to working with the council to support the swimming facilities at Hailsham Leisure Centre going forward.”

Second, Hailsham Town Council is pleased to announce further significant developments on a project to provide a new public toilet and Changing Places facility in the town centre.

The installation of two modular public conveniences and a Changing Places disabled unit on the site of the old public toilet in Vicarage Field (which was until now being used as bicycle storage facility) was completed on Friday and will be opened to the public in the coming weeks, once the necessary utility service connections have been completed.

The external look of the new facilities fits in with the street scene and, internally, the facility comprises an electronic hoist, a rise-and-fall changing table, shower toilet and wash basin, all of which are totally accessible.

A project originally proposed by Cllr Mary Laxton and seconded by Cllr Gavin Blake-Coggins several years ago, Hailsham Town Council agreed to the installation of a Changing Places facility in January 2022, which are designed in a way so that they are completely accessible and provide sufficient space and equipment for people with multiple and complex disabilities, or who are not able to use a toilet independently.

The installation of the new facility in Vicarage Field was funded from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), amidst a high-profile national campaign over the past few years to increase the numbers of these specialist public conveniences. The green light for the project came as good news for residents and visitors to the town, taking into account the decision made by the Town Council not to renew the lease on the former Cortlandt stable block building toilet facility in North Street, on cost grounds.

The Town Council is grateful to Wealden District Council for their co-operation on the joint-working project from the outset and for agreeing to install the facility on their land.

“Hailsham Town Council acknowledges the importance of public conveniences availability,” said Cllr Laxton, Chair of the Assets Management Committee. “The town centre toilet project is finally near to completion and the facilities have been installed by contractors. The only task remaining on this very exciting journey is the connection of water and electricity to the unit, which should happen in the next few weeks.”

“It has been a challenging task from the outset, firstly to agree a suitable location and secondly the associated management plan for the essential facilities. But we’ve finally got there! Inclusion, equality and dignity are values taken seriously by the Town Council in representing the residents in our community.”

“My co-members and I were keen to understand how we could best help those with complex disabilities, and it is wonderful that we have been able to work together to succeed with the delivery of a Changing Places facility that will benefit the local community.”

“The modular toilets and Changing Places pod will certainly create a buzz within the community and having these new toilets forms part of the Town Council’s wider vision to make Hailsham a much more accessible place to live, whilst also supporting our local economy.”

Cllr Colin Mitchell, who has also been instrumental in the project’s progress, commented: “It is wonderful to see the installation of the much-needed facilities in the town centre. This is an extremely important facility for people who cannot use a toilet on their own enabling them to live confident and independent lives.

“Regarding the Changing Places unit in particular, the new facility will be a lifeline for people and their carers who often must choose between venturing out and staying at home because of their particular needs. The installation of the pod will also go a considerable way towards tackling inequalities and creating more inclusive spaces, whilst enabling people with disabilities to maintain their independence in their everyday life.”