ALL signs ‘point’ to success after South Tyneside’s new £16m leisure complex swung open its doors to the public for the first time.
A vision for the future became a reality as the borough’s own swimming star Nicole Lough joined South Tyneside Mayor, Coun Ernest Gibson and South Tyneside Council leader Iain Malcolm for the official opening of Haven Point yesterday.
Coun Malcolm said the new complex was the single biggest investment made in leisure services in the borough in the last 40 years.
The state-of-the-art facility was already making waves with the public before it opened – with queues rapidly growing ahead of the big launch.
The centre was due to be opened in May but construction delays put back the opening, however council chiefs are hoping it will prove well worth the wait.
Nicole, who claimed a bronze in the International Paralympic Committee World Championships in the 100m breastroke in Canada, was officially swiped in as the very first customer.
But the honour of first dip in the pool was so big that it needed an entire squad of excited members of South Tyneside Swimming Club to carry it out.
Nicole was unable to make the splash after suffering a wrist and thumb injury in training on Thursday, but her misfortune didn’t stop her joining in the fun.
Coun Malcolm says the multi-million-pound centre will be a big boost to the whole borough.
As well as top-class swimming facilities, Haven Point also boasts an outdoor ampitheatre, meeting room, dance studios and gym, with everyone from champion swimmer to keep fit fanatic catered for.
He said: “It’s the culmination of ten years of planning and construction and consultation with the public to make sure that we got this facility right.
“It’s the single biggest investment made in leisure services since the authority (South Tyneside Council) was created in 1973.
Coun Malcolm said it was key that no resident was priced out of taking advantage of the new facility.
He added; “Haven Point has to generate an income but we wanted to make sure that nobody – from pensioner to young person – was priced out. We wanted to make sure it was a facility worthy of the name.” Coun Gibson was joined by Mayoress Patricia Ridley for the eagerly-awaited ribbon cutting.
He said: “Haven Point is a major part of South Tyneside Council’s commitment to regenerating our borough. There are so many people to thank for turning this vision into a reality.”
Coun Gibson hailed council leader Iain Malcolm for delivering on a pledge to create a state-of-the-art leisure venue for South Tyneside.
“Earlier this year, Jarrow pool opened and now we have this stunning new facility in South Shields.”