HARTLEPOOL'S new multi-million pound leisure centre is to be named Highlight.

The name was selected by a judging panel following a competition which attracted around 500 entries.

Councillor Shane Moore, Leader of Hartlepool Borough Council and Chair of the judging panel, said: “We feel that the name is particularly aspirational and reflects our exciting plans for the building and The Waterfront area as a whole.

“In fact, the definition of the word “highlight” – to make or try to make people notice or be aware of something; to direct attention to something; to be a very interesting, exciting or important part of something – sums up perfectly what we are trying to achieve.

“We envisage the building being more than just a leisure centre – it will be a must-visit destination, a community venue offering a range of opportunities and activities for people from the town and further afield.”

The chosen name also reflects local history - the Seaton Highlight, a traditional maritime navigational aid and now a memorial to those who have lost their lives at sea, is a feature of The Waterfront site.

The judging panel agreed that the branding concept “On the Waterfront” should be used in relation to the new leisure centre and, potentially, other attractions within the surrounding area.

Cllr Moore said: “A number of people put forward the Highlight and the Waterfront also featured prominently in the list of entries, so we have tried to reflect public opinion by combining them to give us “Highlight - On The Waterfront”.

“I would like to thank everyone who took the time to put forward names, and we look forward to engaging further with local people as the development of the new building progresses.”

As well as Councillor Moore, the judging panel included Hartlepool Borough Council’s Managing Director Denise McGuckin, Assistant Director Preventative and Community Based Services Gemma Ptak; Hartlepool Sports Council Chair Keith Thomas and Umer Khan, Member of the Youth Parliament for Hartlepool.

The panel acknowledged the large number of entries received in favour of the new building being named after a particular individual, with strong support for former Team GB Paralympic swimmer Kevin Walsh and footballer Billy Stubbs.

Cllr Moore added: “All of the individuals are, quite rightly, held in very high regard and going forward we intend to explore how we might be able to recognise significant achievement within and around the new building.”