A council’s consultation event over plans for a new multi-million swimming pool has been mocked for its use of children’s plastic building bricks to allow the public to have their say.

Those attending the event were asked to add a block to a miniature tower to state whether they supported the Eston pool proposals or not.

On Facebook, local resident Pat Turner said: “Perhaps they think that people on this side of the borough can’t write our names and addresses?

“How insulting for the people of this area.”

Read more: Middlesbrough residents to give views on Eston Pool development plans

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The resident described it not as a consultation event, but a “this is what we the council are going to do event” and said there were just four small boards on display with the plans, while officers present could not answer some questions posed.

Also posting on Facebook, former Teesville ward councillor Bob Norton claimed the consultation process was “nothing more than a council PR exercise” and suggested residents would not be able to influence the design.

He said: “The pool has been designed and will be built according to the council’s requirements.”

Earlier this month the council revealed the first images of the new pool which will be six lanes wide and 25 metres long with changing facilities and 150 seat spectator gallery.

It is also planned to include a number of sustainability measures to cut its carbon footprint such as solar panels, air source heat pumps and increased wall insulation.

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Last year Patrick Rice, the council’s corporate director for adults and communities, told a meeting the overall cost of the project had been revised upwards with an £8.6m budget being put aside to replace the old mothballed baths off Normanby Road, South Bank, which closed in the summer of 2020 following a series of damaging flooding incidents.

He also confirmed there would be no small learner’s pool, which had been under used as part of the previous facility and eventually decommissioned.

The planned costs have since ballooned to more than £10m with the council’s recently published capital investments programme including the pool as part of a £13.1m ‘sports village’ proposal for which £11m will be borrowed, again an increased sum, which could include a track and new football facility.

A total of £2m is also coming from a previous allocation to the council from the Tees Valley Combined Authority as part of indigenous growth funding.

South Bank ward councillor Sue Jeffrey said at a recent council meeting the council also hoped to “lever in” external grant funding for “enhanced facilities”.

She said: “Once again it seems we are chasing the money and not thinking about our strategic priorities and the residents when making these decisions.”

The council, which missed out with a Government ‘levelling up’ funding bid to pay for the scheme, had promised ‘spades in the ground’ by the end of last year, but works have been delayed by asbestos finds in the old structure which is being pulled down.

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A spokesman for the council said it was asking for the views of residents on the latest designs for Eston Pool with the consultation ending on March 6.

He said the council aimed to ensure local taxpayers’ money was spent as “effectively as possible” and a separate learners’ pool could have added more than £4m to the cost of the building.

He said: “The long-term vision for the Eston site is to turn it into a Sports Village, which could potentially include an expansion of Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation’s offer at the site.  “These plans are not currently part of this planning application, but that is our ambition.”