Eastbourne and Willingdon MP Caroline Ansell has said Meads Sport Centre must be saved during a visit there to meet up with groups that use it.

Caroline popped in on Friday to meet The Aqua Ladies, members of ‘TOFs and a host of children at the half term CACL gym camp.

The centre is under threat as the owners, Brighton University is closing its campus in the town.

“If we were to lose the Meads Sports Centre, CACL and many local groups would simply not have the facilities to pivot to,” the MP said. “All the many benefits to health and well-being they bring would be lost.

“One TOF member told me that the classes at the centre keep him out of the GP surgery and that thanks to these facilities, he is fitter and stronger now than when he had his diagnosis.”

Caroline said her next meeting to try and save the centre was with the head of estates at Brighton University, later this month and she was anticipating much progress to have been made.

“Back in the summer, I urged the council to step in and I am pleased to say they too have had a positive site visit and met with the university earlier this month. Council officers are now looking at the centre’s operations and running a feasibility study to work up a potential business case.

“If it comes to it, the council will need to safeguard this hugely valuable asset for the community.”

She added there was also another angle that could help save the centre.

“I don’t want to raise expectations unduly but I have spoken with two very promising interested parties in these last weeks,” Caroline explained.  

“I have connected them with the right people to explore options. Ultimately, any and every party must determine how this site can be a viable leisure centre enterprise without the university financing behind it.

“With the university closure looming next summer, this feels like the 11th hour but hope is rising.”

The MP thanked campaign group SOMS whose petition has hit more than 3000 signatories and the Meads Community Association for their work. The MCA has applied to Eastbourne Borough Council for the Centre to be recognised as an Asset of Community Value.

“That designation has been granted, which is a positive move. This essentially gives a window of opportunity for the community to mobilise, should the site be listed for sale.

She added: “This centre simply must be saved. I’ll be keeping up the pressure.”