Heather Mills tries to keep £1 million pool by saying fire brigade can use it

Heather Mills has launched a bid to keep her £1 million swimming pool, which she built without planning permission, by saying the fire brigade can use it to put out blazes in her village.


Sir Paul McCartney’s ex-wife, 40, built the pool at her country home in Robertsbridge, East Sussex, without first getting the necessary permission from the local planning authority.

Officials from Rother District Council spotted it when they visited her house to make sure she had taken down a marquee that she had put up, also without planning permission, earlier this year. They could now force Miss Mills to fill in the 40ft by 22ft pool.

But the resourceful Miss Mills has come up with a reason to keep the pool – she says it could be used to help douse house fires in the area.

Her agent David Bailey said: “In an emergency it could be used by the fire brigade.”

Miss Mills, who was awarded £24.3 million in her divorce from the ex- Beatle in March, is applying for retrospective planning permission for the pool.

She also proposes to build a three metre high wooden plant room to house the pool equipment.

She is believed to have spent £1 million on renovations at her £3 million country home since her divorce.

Mr Bailey said: “It is a large residence set in its own grounds of mainly trees surrounding its formal garden. The green houses which once served the house have through neglect fallen into disrepair.

“A place was required to accommodate a swimming pool. Other locations within the grounds were considered but from a safety view this position was chosen.”

The planning authority will meet later this month to decide whether Miss Mills can keep her swimming pool or not.

Miss Mills, who represented herself during the divorce proceedings, claims her ex-husband was worth much more than the £400 million figure used in their divorce battle. The couple married in 2002 and had one daughter.

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‘Londoners won’t have more public swimming pools by 2012’

Olympics chiefs’ plans for the sporting legacy of the 2012 Games took a blow today as the provision of public swimming pools in London was revealed.

An unprecedented audit of facilities by the London Assembly shows that after decades of closures 40 per cent of Londoners live more than one mile – or 20 minutes’ walk – from their nearest public pool.

The report’s authors warned that provision of public pools was unlikely to improve before the 2012 Olympics.

They said the findings suggest ministers will find it difficult to boost participation in sport – a key legacy aim of the London Games – through its £140 million free swimming scheme for children and over-sixties. The survey adds to concerns about public sports facilities raised by the Standard’s campaign for a legacy from the London Olympics.

Outlying boroughs are among those with the poorest provision. The worst is Redbridge, with 84 per cent of residents living at least 20 minutes from a pool, followed by Hillingdon (76 per cent) Havering (69 per cent) and Harrow (65 per cent). Residents in Brent, Bromley, Croydon and Greenwich are disadvantaged by “low access” to public transport.

London boroughs fall on average 25 per cent below the Amateur Swimming Association’s target of 13 square metres of pool per 1,000 residents, with the East End particularly poorly served.

The residents with the easiest access to public pools live in central boroughs including Islington, Camden, Kensington and Chelsea and Tower Hamlets.

Data revealed that of London’s 530 pools only 196 (37 per cent) were run by councils while 205 were commercially operated and the rest were operated by schools and universities.

Dee Doocey, chairwoman of the Assembly’s economic development, culture, sport and tourism committee called for measures to improve provision such as urging private schools to open up their pools at the weekends. Ms Doocey also called for councils to consider hiring temporary pools while permanent facilities were shut for refurbishment.

Researchers also found that there are only 11 diving facilities in London, in nine of London’s 33 boroughs. Ms Doocey added: “Getting more people swimming is at the heart of plans for a sports participation legacy from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

”Our report highlights that in 11 London boroughs, half the population live more than 20 minutes’ walk from a public pool. Londoners’ access to public swimming pools will not have improved by 2012.”

Colin Brown, Director of London Swimming, said: “Public swimming pools are the backbone for provision in London. This report clearly shows that although London has a high number of pools we have some significant gaps and that accessibility for more than a third of the population is poor.”

Taken from an excerpt in the Evening Standard

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Olympic team to design Plymouth Life Centre

THE Life Centre in Plymouth will be designed by the team that built the iconic “Water Cube” aquatics centre, pictured, for the Beijing Olympics.

And top British architect Will Alsop will also have a hand in the project, The Herald has learned.

The engineering and design group Arup is part of the team for the Life Centre. Arup played a major role in building Beijing’s National Aquatics Centre and National Stadium, and Beijing International Airport. The company has also been appointed to build the aquatics centre for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

The lead designers for the Life Centre are the award-winning firm SMC Charter Architects, part of the SMC Group.

Nalin Seneviratne, Plymouth City Council’s head of asset management, yesterday confirmed the appointments.

Click here!And he said that SMC Charter had been contracted to involve Will Alsop in the design.

“Managing to get Arup is a real coup for us.”

The project is being co-ordinated by EC Harris.

“I made it absolutely clear to them that we had to have a team that was fully experienced in the mechanics of swimming pools,” Mr Seneviratne said.

“These things have to work – and they have to work properly.”

Plymouth’s Olympic diver Tom Daley said: “That’s pretty cool. If it could be anything like the Water Cube that would be fantastic. It’s good to know it’s in good hands.

“The Beijing pool was great. It had everything. If Plymouth is going to be even the littlest bit like that it would be great.

“When the Life Centre is built we will be able to hold national and international competitions and host the 2012 training camps.

“It means I will be able to carry on training at home for longer before the London Games. I won’t have to spend so much time away, just wanting to get home to Plymouth.

“It will be great.”

Chris Couch, the father of Plymouth Olympic diver Tonia Couch, said the Beijing Water Cube was “fantastic – if we could get similar facilities in Plymouth that would be brilliant”.

He said: “If the Chinese trusted them to get it right, I’m sure they’ll do a good job for us.

“But we haven’t yet seen the plans for the dry training facilities. What we want is not only a competition venue but also dry training.”

Ian Potts, director of the Architects Design Group in Plymouth, said: “The design is paramount. “We’ve seen the potential of our local sports men and women. It’s essential the Life Centre not only provides the facilities they need but also encourages and uplifts them.

“Arup and SMC will be up to the job, so long as the process is managed properly and the budget is adequate. The last thing we want is another Pavilions. If there isn’t enough money for a proper Olympic pool this will be a disaster.

“It’s essential the Life Centre provides the best possible quality or we’ll be letting our sportsmen and women down.”

The SMC and Arup team will now start developing the design in preparation to submit a planning application during the winter. This process will involve concept designs and energy strategy evaluations.

The project team, headed by Plymouth City Council community services director Clive Turner will visit the £37 million K2 leisure centre in Crawley, West Sussex. K2 is thought to be the “most comparable” leisure centre in Britain, and the Plymouth team will be seeking to learn lessons from it.

SMC Charter Architects designed Norwich’s Riverside Swimming Centre opposite the Norwich City Football Club ground. The centre opened in 2006. It has a 25-metre swimming pool and learners’ pool; sauna and steam room; spa pool; fitness gym; exercise studio and crèche.

The practice was also appointed by the London Borough of Redbridge to design a £27.5 million leisure development with an Olympic swimming pool, two other pools, a 12-court sports hall and health and leisure facilities.

A £7.1 million major swimming pool complex for Wellingborough Borough Council is underway, and the practice has also been appointed to complete a feasibility study for an Olympic pool by Ipswich Borough Council.

The practice is part of the SMC Group, an architectural company of 440 staff based in 20 offices in Britain and overseas. It has offices in London, Bournemouth, Ipswich and Bedford.

The company boasts of extensive experience in the residential, education, government, sport and leisure, health, transport, commercial and retail sectors. Awards include the National Housing Excellence award in 2006 for Seldown Eco-Village in Poole, Dorset.

The choice of SMC and Arup has to be ratified by the city council’s Cabinet, at its meeting next week.

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Weather Forcast for week Commencing 1st September

Swimming Weather? – Not likely :(

Low pressure dominates the week. Monday sees wind and some heavy rain sweeping across the southern half of the UK.

With sunny spells and scattered heavy showers further north, eastern Scotland will see some more persistent rain. There will be a much fresher feel to things everywhere.

Tuesday sees the winds easing down except maybe in the southwest of England.

A day of sunny spells and showers across the UK, with the best of the sunny spells in the east and the heaviest showers in the west.

Wednesday sees cool north-westerly winds developing as the main driving low eases away towards Scandinavia.

It will be quite a windy day with rain in Scotland and elsewhere there will be sunny spells and showers.

Thursday will bring something of a respite as we are in-between systems, with lighter winds and just a few showers.

By Friday the next deep Atlantic low moves, in with gales likely around southern and western coasts.

Heavy rain will accompany the strong winds, spreading from west to east during the day. The same Atlantic low takes us into an unsettled weekend.

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Earlier this year we had a request from a serving member of the Armed forces to enquire if there was the possibility of supplying F.O.C a Swimming Pool for an operational base in Basra, Iraq!


Not our usual enquiry on our info@ukpoolstore.co.uk email, but sending back and forth a few emails, it was evident that the guys were operating in temperatures of +45 – 50 degrees helping with the ongoing reconstruction of Iraq.


So as our company charity is Help for Heroes we thought it would be a good idea to help. We asked our staff for their input, and eventually came up with an extensive list of goodies to send, including inflatable pool toys, Chairs, floats! We shipped the goods via RAF Brize Norton in early July, and the Pool and extra’s arrived on the 17th July.



 We then waited for the ‘my pools gone green what do I do’? scenario, but we were more than surprised, and very pleased to receive these pictures of the guys appreciating the gift.








 So this now begs the question – how many soldier’s can you fit in a 12′ diameter 30″ deep Intex frame Pool?


Looks like 12 is the current record!  




In keeping with this Summers theme of 2008 Beijing Olympics we are proud to present the following specialist categories from the Basra Container Cube!


The Olympic Gold for …the 3 Meter Freestyle Diving whilst avoiding crab men into slightly BROWN water ……Goes to!







The Olympic Gold for ….the 2 tread ladder controlled belly Flopping into 30 inches of water (ish)….Goes to!






Olympic Container Cube organisers today reported that spectator attendance figures to the Cube were better than expected, as long as you enjoyed the UKPS England Chairs!








And Finally a big thank you to the organisers of the Basra Container Cube Olympics, without their constant vigilance we are sure someone would have had a pool side accident, so a big thank you to the Life Guards.


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Weather Forcast for week Commencing 25th August

A generally good week – Swimming weather is back :)

Starting the week with a Bank Holiday is not a great way to guarantee dry weather, but actually for southern parts of the UK it looks as if the influence of an area of high pressure over the near continent will be enough to prevent anything but the most slightest rainfall.
Sunshine is likely to be in short supply, but despite this and a fairly brisk south-westerly breeze it should feel warm.
Further north, the difficult bit will be tracking the movement of a weather front as it waves back and forth bringing occasional spells of rain.
Western Scotland, Northern Ireland and Northwest England are the areas most likely to see any significant rain but even here we’re unlikely to see a repeat of the torrential downpours of recent weeks.
The weather looks much more settled for the end of the week with a south-westerly airstream bringing a rise in temperature as sunshine breaks through, especially across eastern areas.

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Free Swimming for the under 16’s & Over 60’s – Finally!

Pensioners and children in Corby could soon be entitled to free swimming.
The international-sized swimming pool at Westcott Way could adopt a scheme of free-entry for under-16s and over-60s after councillors agreed to apply for Government funding from a pot designed to encourage people to visit their swimming pools more often.

Corby Council will also ask the Government to help pay some of the building costs towards the pool as part of the same scheme.

Minister for culture, media and sport Andy Burnham has invited local authorities across the country to bid for cash from the pot and applications have to be with the department by the middle of September.

Corby Council’s head of service, culture and leisure Chris Stephenson said: “The proposal to introduce a phased programme of free swimming for all is an exciting and commendable national initiative.

“It links well with the main driver for building the new Corby pool to provide a first class facility for fitness, fun and for exercising which also assists in combating the existing poor health statistic in Corby.”

In 2007/8, there were 11,484 under-16 visitors to the pool and 8,319 over-60s – earning the council £65,000 in entrance fees. The Government grant could be worth about £40,000 per year, meaning the council loses about £26,000 through the scheme. But officers are concerned if they do not take up the offer, swimmers will go to other boroughs where they can swim for free.

They will also be given a one-off £10,000 grant for signing up to the

Pool user Malcolm Gartside, 68, said: “I think anything that encourages older people to come to the pool and keep fit is a good thing. Most pensioners can’t afford to go to fancy gyms so they need pools like this to be cheap.”

The council will also lobby the Government to update its funding formula because of Corby’s huge population increase in recent years.

The allocation of grants will be decided on population rather than how many people use the pool, so Corby could lose out because of outdated estimates.

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Rebecca Who? – Well that’s all changed now!

On Monday she became the first woman to win a British swimming gold for 48 years.

On Saturday she became the first British swimmer to win two golds at the same Games for 100 years (the last was Henry Taylor in 1908).

She is only the third British athlete since World War Two to win two golds at the same Games (the others being Kelly Holmes, 800m/1500m 2004 and Richard Meade, three-day eventing, 1972). [1308 BST UPDATE: And now Chris Hoy keirin/men’s sprint, 2008].

Rebecca Adlington won her second gold in the 800m final with a winning margin of more than six seconds – in a new world-record time of 8 minutes 14.1 seconds.

It was a record which had stood for 19 years, the oldest record in the swimming book and she broke it by more than two seconds.

But let’s look at some less sexy numbers. The ones that really matter, the real story behind Rebecca Adlington’s double gold in the pool.

Her day starts when the alarm goes at 5.15am.

By 5.45am she is getting changed at her home pool in Nottingham – home of Nova Centurion Swimming Club.

After a quick warm-up poolside, she is in the water by 6am.

Over the next two hours she will swim about 320 lengths.

She will have swum around 8,000m before many of us are out of bed.

Then it is home for breakfast, a sleep, a bit of TV – then at 4.15pm it’s time to leave for the pool again for the second session of the day – when she gets to do it all again.

This happens every day of the week, except Wednesday – when coach Bill Furniss gives her and the 20 or so other members of the Centurion elite squad the morning off – and Saturday, when they get a whole extra hour in bed.

“The best hour of the week,” says Centurion and GB team-mate and friend Jess Sylvester, who estimates that in a week Adlington may swim up to 80,000m.

That’s more than 50 miles.

It’s not glamorous. And it’s not lucrative.

As a member of the British Swimming elite team, Adlington is funded by UK Sport.

For the last few years she has been in one of the lowest funding brackets, category C, which has given her an income of between £8,000-£10,000 a year.

Out of that she and her family have had to fund her full-time career as a swimmer – her travel, their travel, accommodation and kit.

“You’ve probably heard how expensive those new LZR costumes are, about £200 a go,” she confides in whispered tones while we’re sitting backstage in BBC TV’s Ling Long Pagoda studio in Beijing.

She’s joking about the pair of Christian Louboutin shoes she has got her eye on (she has already emailed her mum the internet link).

Adlington is just starting to understand what she has done here in Beijing in her first Olympic Games and what it might mean. A new pair of designer shoes.


“Coming into this meet, nobody wanted to speak to me – I was Miss Nobody!” she gasps in glee to the Today programme’s John Humphreys, one of the many people waiting to interview her back home.

It was a very different story as she left the Olympic pool this morning, where a pack of 500 were waiting to speak to her.

Furniss, who describes her as an “aerobic animal”, said: “It’s going to be a steep learning curve for her, getting used to this attention, but I think the penny dropped when we came out to that crush.

“But she will handle it, she’s a Mansfield girl and a pretty amazing one too, she’ll keep her feet on the ground.”

Indeed though Adlington is hungry and tired after this morning’s exploits in the pool – she is still engaging, modest and excited at the prospect of appearing on the sofa to be interviewed by Claire Balding and Adrian Chiles in front of many millions of TV viewers in the UK who have got up for an early Saturday morning breakfast to hear how she got on.

Indeed, her bubbly nature was visible on the podium, where her tears dried up to be replaced by giggles – the fault of the British swim team who had all gathered around the pool side to celebrate her medal moment.

“I could just hear them all shouting – I could hear Simon Burnett yell, ‘I want your babies!’ – which I am sure his girlfriend would have something to say about as well as my boyfriend!”

The horseplay indicates what a fantastic mood now resonates within the British swimming camp – where while there has been only one other medal (Jo Jackson), the team has performed well.


Her good friend and fellow GB swimmer Cassie Patten, who jokingly called on the Queen to make her a Dame in the BBC’s live post-race interview, has a good chance in the open-water swimming, and Adlington is pleased she can now take time off to go and cheer her on.

As Adlington is whisked away for a spot of make-up, Sylvester, a 100m freestyler who swam in the 4x100m relay team which finished seventh, tells me how they have all been buoyed by her wins.

“It is just so inspiring going to London in four years time. It is a long way away off and will mean a lot of hard work but it gives you the inspiration to do it when Becky can just go out there and smash the world record to win her second gold.”

“I have had the privilege of seeing her train every day, and I know what she puts herself through and how tough she is.

“I saw how upset she was after last year’s World Championships but to be honest I believe if she had not had that disappointment she might not have done this now because it made her a stronger person.”

Adlington had been tipped as an outside medal chance going into the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne – but failed to make the final and left the pool in tears.

“She was bawling her eyes out, she was so upset,” said BBC pundit and former GB swimming champion Karen Pickering.

“So that was the only question mark over Becky – there was no doubting her talent or her hard work – but could she do it at a major championship?”

The answer, as we now know, was very definitely yes.

Adlington herself admits that disappointment was what spurred her on over the last 18 months, when she has “pushed her body to the limits”.

“I learnt a lot about myself that day. I had trained so hard – no less hard than I have been this year – but it was my first major meet and I was a bit out of my depth to be honest.

“I got out of the pool after failing to make the final and I was distraught, I was in tears, I have never been so upset. I swore then that I was never going to let that happen again, that I was not going to be getting out of the Olympic pool crying my eyes out.”

She did, but it was tears of joy as she finished a full six seconds ahead of her nearest rival – then raised her arms aloft as she realised she had got the world record.

As Chiles joked, Adlington was so far ahead she could have turned into the final 50m and given the others a wink as they were coming towards her.

Indeed the distance by which she won had all Brits, starved of swimming success in recent years, pleasantly surprised (“She’s six metres clear – and she’s British!,” squealed BBC commentator Andy Jameson).

It wasn’t the close finish Holmes put us through in Athens on the way to her double gold, but in the same way, it could be the enduring image of this games for British fans.

While Holmes was a 34-year-old veteran in Athens, a victim of injury and bad luck for years until it all came right at her last shot at Olympic gold, Adlington is just getting started.

She had been talked about as a hot young talent as far back as 2004 when she won the European Junior Championships aged 16.

But the following year she contracted glandular fever and was laid low for many months, and at the same time, one of her two sisters contracted meningitis.

“It was a really testing time for the family and to be honest a lot of people were questioning whether she could come back from that,” said Sylvester. “But it just shows how tough she is.”

Adlington bounced back to win a silver at the European Championships in Hungary in 2006 – for which she received a special commendation from the mayor of Mansfield (the town is now going to rename the local Sherwood Baths in her honour).

After that her mum gave up her job to run her daughter’s career full-time – though she still helps out in the accounts department at the steel fabrications company where Becky’s dad is managing director.

“Mum has given so much for me, she is the one who is always there to ferry me around, to make sure things are right – my dad helps me financially but my mum is basically my manager.

“I owe them both everything.”

Between them, her parents had seen every race their daughter had ever swum, until Monday…

They had bought tickets for the 400m final in the Water Cube – but they’d turned out to be fake and were only able to fly out on Wednesday.

“I thought ‘oh no, maybe they’ve have missed my gold so in the 800m I just wanted so much to do it for them’.”

“At about 500m, I breathed, and happened to look up and I saw my mum in the crowd with the Union Jack – I wasn’t looking for them it was just luck – and I thought ‘I’ve got to do it for them’.

After two golds in Beijing, Adlington is now hugely excited about the prospect of appearing on home turf at London 2012 – where she will be the same age as Michael Phelps now – but admits it also feels a bit overwhelming.

“The prospect of another four years of such hard work feels a bit daunting right now.

But I am going to have a good few months off which will help. But my body is developing; I am more muscley than I was last year so I am getting stronger.

It is early days now but I may focus more on the 200m and the 400m – as the training for the 800m is such hard work!”

But first up is a well-deserved holiday.

Her boyfriend, also a swimmer, stayed in the UK rather than come to Beijing so that the pair of them could afford to go on holiday afterwards.

They are going on a cruise around the Mediterranean – where she intends only to enter a pool to “cool off and get straight back out again!”

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Weather Forcast for week Commencing 18th August

Swimming Weather ?- Can’t say that it is :(

A deep area of low pressure to the southwest of Ireland will slowly track north-eastwards to lie over southwest Norway by Wednesday. From Thursday onwards, the likelihood is that another, shallower feature will take its place to keep the unsettled theme going.

Fronts associated with the initial low will provide something of a double whammy of rainfall across many parts of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Given the saturated ground in some areas, localised flooding cannot be ruled out. Winds will also be a feature of the weather early in the period, particularly in southwest England where gales are possible.

Rain will tend to give way to showers during the middle of the week. Wednesday offers the prospect of fewer showers with some spots managing to stay dry all day. Showers will, however, return on Thursday.

Temperatures through the period are only likely to be close to or slightly below the seasonal average, especially in the wetter spots. Sunshine amounts will also be disappointing.

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Weather Forcast for week Commencing 11th August

Back to the good old British Summer :(

Showers or longer spells of rain will dominate all parts as an area of low pressure drifts from west of Ireland to the northern North Sea.

By the second half of the week, the feature’s central pressure will be below 987mb, reasonably deep for the time of year. Fronts and troughs in its circulation will only add to the unsettled feel.

After a breezy start to the week, the wind will become a significant part of the weather story, with strong to gale force winds across Northern Ireland, Wales and England through Wednesday.

Temperatures will start the week close to the seasonal norm but will lean towards the cool end of the spectrum as sunshine amounts disappoint and the wind will veer north-west later in the week.

On the subject of rainfall, it looks as though all areas will get more than their fair share and further localised flooding cannot be ruled out.

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