When I read the story this afternoon that the £5million Mountbatten Centre Swimming Pool had been built two inches to short to meet International and Olympic standards my first thought was ‘only in Portsmouth’. However as the story has made its way though the national newspapers today there seems to have been a dramatic twist. The story is completely inaccurate.
Donna Jones, Tory councillor for Hilsea is quote in The Sun as saying, “The way it was sold to us was we would be hosting an Olympic team of swimmers for training for the 2012 games.
“But now we’re being told the pool is two inches too short and as a result the city will lose millions of pounds of revenue along with cash grants.
“The amateurs will be happy with the pool but not top level athletes.”
Yeah it doesn’t sound good does it?
However this evening on BBC South Today it was confirmed that the story was a complete lie and the pool was the correct length. The Tory councillor was interviewed and said that she was just talking to a colleague casually about the scheme and then suddenly her off the record remarks were quoted word for word in the newspaper. Yeah not too sure about that.
The big question is how will this play out long-term? This story has reverberated around Portsmouth all afternoon and the Lib Dem led Council have taken a big hit. Do they recover when people realise the story was bogus or does the old adage ‘mud sticks’ play a part?
My thoughts are that the story had real legs today and people will remember the story when they go to vote in the council elections. The fact that the story was inaccurate won’t register in some people’s minds and despite doing no wrong, the local media story around the story will hurt the party. I don’t expect the Portsmouth News to be running a front page headline tomorrow taking back the story somehow…
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