COUNCIL bosses have defended the design of a £16m leisure complex branded a “perverts’ paradise” by one Gazette reader.
Haven Point at Pier Parade in South Shields offers state-of-the-art swimming and gym facilities.
But while council chiefs say feedback about the new centre, opened in November as a replacement for the old Temple Park centre, has been positive, its full-length windows, allowing passers-by to see swimmers in action, have sparked a heated debate.
In a letter to the Gazette, one female reader describes the complex as a “perverts’ paradise” and called for the windows to be blacked out.
Viv O’Sullivan’s letter sparked a wider debate on our website after it was published on Wednesday, January 22, yielding a mixed response. It also attracted more than 10,000 views on our website.
Read Viv’s letter here.
Among the concerns raised are fears for children’s safety, and some users of the pool say they feel uncomfortable and as if they are on public view.
But while some are calling for action over the windows, others have defended them, saying they like to be able to look outside while swimming.
A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “Haven Point has proved hugely popular with people and groups since it opened last year, with 79,000 admissions to the building and over 2,000 new members using its state-of-the-art facilities.
“In this time, the council has received overwhelming feedback talking about the superb setting, how the open aspect of the pool gives swimmers something to observe while swimming and how the building integrates with the park and foreshore as part of the overall seaside experience.
“We’ve also received a handful of constructive comments about the windows in the swimming pool area.
“We take the issue of safeguarding very seriously, which is why all pool staff are appropriately trained and suitably positioned poolside to quickly identify any potential problems from external observers.
“In addition, we are also members of a police-supported regional leisure watch scheme, and we have a number of cameras which allow us to monitor activities both within and around the building.
“The council will continue to monitor the situation and listen to customer feedback.”
Haven Point has a 25-metre competition pool and an 18-metre teaching pool, with both having adjustable floors to suit varying age groups and abilities.
Those wanting to take a splash can also enjoy water slides, sprays a bubble spa and water play.
The complex, officially opened by the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, in November, is also home to an 86-station gym, two dance studios, a sauna and a steam room.
It is home to a visitor information centre, café, outdoor terrace, two multi-purpose rooms and rooftop viewing gallery too.