March 9 2014 Latest news:
Sam Blewett, Reporter
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
A permanent swimming pool can be built for just £250,000 more than the temporary five-year pool proposed by Redbridge Council’s leadership, according to the leader of the borough’s Labour group.
Cllr Jas Athwal (Lab, Mayfield) has said that his plans, fully costed by Redbridge’s senior council officers, will cost the council £2.2m and last for a minimum of 50 years.
Recently heated debate has ignited between Cllr Athwal and Redbridge Council leader, Cllr Keith Prince (Con, Barkingside), over how to provide a much-needed pool in the borough.
Cllr Prince has put forward plans to build a temporary pool in Seven Kings car park, High Road, at a cost of £1.95m.
Redbridge Labour’s plans come three weeks after Cllr Prince issued an open letter to Cllr Athwal in the Recorder asking for details of a “better option”.
Labour’s pool will cost a total of £2.8m, with their budget depending on a £600,000 grant from Sport England which Cllr Athwal said will be received.
He said: “When you are the worst swimming authority in London, and the fourth worst in the county, you will attract funding.
“You go with a company that won’t plonk a tank on the floor, you go with a company with a good track record.”
His proposed facility, based on an existing development in Bradford, will include a 25m pool, a permanent home for Seven Kings Library, a fitness gym and a studio room.
Cllr Prince admitted that if it is possible to build a permanent pool for £2.2m then he would have to think again about his proposals but criticised the project for “blighting” the land by preventing a future sale.
He said: “In 2008, before Labour destroyed the economy, we were offered £7m for the site.”
Cllr Prince said it was his plan to sell the site after the temporary pool’s tenure was up and get a pool for “free” based on the revenue from selling the land, as well as new housing.
He also believes that the “debt servicing” of the loan will cost the council a great deal of money.
“The potential cost to the council to have a pool on the site is £50m,” he said.
Cllr Athwal responded: “That’s a ridiculous statement. The difference between what we are borrowing is £200,000.”
Labour also expect that the income generated by the pool and the gym will cause the facility to break even.
Cllr Prince’s plan budgets for a £100,000 net yearly loss.
The council will debate the pool proposals at the full council meeting at the town hall on March 6.