The news that Wanstead is to get a new public swimming pool, revealed in the Redbridge budget plans for next year, has been welcomed but is causing a bit of headscratching.
The council announced the £5.5m plan on Tuesday, saying that is has yet to decide on a venue for the pool. The leader of the council, Cllr Jas Athwal, said:
“I can confirm there will be a pool in the Wanstead area. We are doing feasibility checks and we will be coming out with a site shortly. The pools in the south of the borough are currently at capacity, and we want to make sure residents across Redbridge are able to enjoy a healthy lifestyle.”
He told the Ilford Recorder that the costs of the pool would be recouped by charging users. He also pointed to intangible benefits deriving from people being healthier.
But the news has led some to wonder how the council can afford to make the investment when it has had to reduce spending by tens of millions of pounds. Scott Wilding of the Wanstead Society doubted the value of a new pool, telling the paper: “We want new street lights, we want our grass cut, we want our potholes fixed. We cannot afford this.”
In 2014 there was a temporary pool at Wanstead Leisure Centre which was hugely popular and well-used, and the desire for a pool is a regular demand from residents.
The plan will be discussed as part of the budget proposals by the council next week.