By Peter Faretra
Brighton community representatives urged council chiefs to take action and save Saltdean Lido from ruin in a council meeting at Hove Town Hall.
Councillors debated the future of the historic lido after being presented with a petition containing nearly 3000 signatures to revoke the lease from the present owner.
The building was given Grade II* status by English Natural Heritage and was put on the at risk register just a day before the council meeting on 20 October.
Campaigners claim present lease holder Dennis Audley deliberately allowed the building to fall into disrepair and has not fulfilled the lease obligations.
They believe his intentions are to gain planning permission to develop the site and construct over 100 residential properties.
In a rare appearance, Simon Kirby, MP for Kemp Town and Peacehaven, addressed the city council for the first time in 12 years supporting the Save Saltdean Lido (SSL) campaign.
He said: “It is clear the present lease holder is not going to walk away form the situation. Listen to the community and consider embarking on the statutory powers given to you.”
Mr Kirby explained that with the buildings Grade II* listed status the council has the power to use government legislation and order the repairs of the lido to be made within two months.
If those repairs are not carried out then the council can make a compulsory purchase order of the building forcing the present owner to sell.
If it is found that the building was deliberately allowed to fall into disrepair then the owner will be given the minimum of compensation.
The future of this historic building hangs in the balance and so does the fate of the community centre, housed within its walls.
Over 700 people frequent the Saltdean Community Centre each week for classes weddings and concerts.
But because their lease with the council ran out in 2004 their landlord is the present lease holder Mr Audley.
Elizabeth Lee from Saltdean Community Association stated their vision for the centre is for the facilities to continue to run for the benefit of the community.
Mrs Lee said: “It is the thriving heart of the community. Residents love having a local venue with good live music and a reasonably priced bar.”
If the centre should become the subject of a legal dispute between council landlord and lease-holding tenant then the lido could close and the community centre with it.
Council cabinet member Geoffrey Bowden met with the lease holder Denis Audley today to discuss the future of the site the outcome is still unknown.