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Marina future still uncertain

PUBLISHED: 17:51 19 June 2008 | UPDATED: 11:15 03 July 2010

Dominic Bareham

FEARS over the future of Great Yarmouth's premier leisure facility remain even though nine alternative sites are being looked at for a swimming pool.

Concerned residents at a meeting of the Yarmouth area liaison committee on Monday were told the Marina Centre would definitely be running for two years, but beyond this time the future was unclear.

FEARS over the future of Great Yarmouth's premier leisure facility remain even though nine alternative sites are being looked at for a swimming pool.

Concerned residents at a meeting of the Yarmouth area liaison committee on Monday were told the Marina Centre would definitely be running for two years, but beyond this time the future was unclear.

Councillor Graham Plant, the borough's cabinet member for regeneration and tourism, said there was a chance the new facility replacing the Marina Centre may not be on the seafront.

A range of factors were being considered when deciding the viability of each of the nine alternative sites including public transport, the amount of parking available and nearby residents' issues. A further concern was how to accommodate the Marina's other facilities, such as the bowling facilities.

Mr Plant assured the public, many of whom were disabled bowls players, that they would be given enough time to find another facility.

He said: “There is little that can be done to provide a long-term assurance for the Marina Centre itself. We can give you an assurance that in two years time we will have that facility.

“With regard to the bowls there will be ample time to find new facilities, if there will be none available at the new site, or for a developer to come in and provide a new bowling green.

“It is highly unlikely that removal of the Marina Centre will materialise before 2010 or 2011. Indeed it may well be that no proposals will arise that affect the Marina Centre.”

He added the council was “committed to keeping the Marina Centre open” and improving the facilities.

“And I think you would agree that in the last two years the facilities have improved and we are committed to improving them. We are committed to giving you ample notice.”

The government has given permission for a large casino to be built in the resort, and the Marina centre's seafront site is one of those earmarked for the new gambling facility.

The site is being advertised, and the council has made no secret it would like a massive leisure complex developed in Yarmouth - and some have hoped for a water park.

Pleasure Beach managing director Albert Jones has already thrown in his hat for the licence with his consortium unveiling plans for a £35m casino and leisure complex called The Edge on disused South Denes.

Council leader Barry Coleman said the council's engineers had given assurances no major maintenance was needed to Marina Centre, run by Great Yarmouth Sport and Leisure Trust, for two years. But investment in future maintenance had to be considered, such as if the air conditioning system broke down, creating health and safety problems.

In this case, if there is insufficient funds in the council's budget to cover the repairs the centre's future would have to be re-considered.

But Phyllis Ecclestone, of Well Street, Yarmouth was not reassured by the comments from councillors. The 82-year-old was a member of Yarmouth Sports Council which helped get the Marina Centre up-and-running in 1965.

Her main fear was that an alternative leisure facility would not be open by the time the centre closed, even though Mr Plant said this would be the case. She was worried for the 260 disabled people who currently use the swimming pool.

She said: “For many of them it is the only exercise they get and it is vital for their wellbeing. I hope that they think about the disabled swimming if the Marina Centre is taken over by somebody else. Where else are they going to go.”

Of the meeting itself, she added: “They just went over the same thing. The only thing positive that came out of it was that they have nine sites that they are considering.”

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