POLITICAL candidates vying for election have clashed over plans for a new swimming pool – with some saying they will “save lives” and others furious over the amount of money it will cost. 

Labour and Tory candidates standing in May’s local elections are at odds over whether a new pool at Wanstead Leisure Centre is value for money in a time of austerity.

Redbridge Council confirmed plans to expand Wanstead Leisure Centre and install a swimming pool will cost around £6.5 million.

Costs will be met from the council’s capital budget. Money borrowed to fund the pool will be paid back as it is used by customers.

Scott Wilding, Jo Blackman and Paul Donovan have had their say on plans.

Ms Blackman, a Labour activist, said the new pool could save lives.

She said: “A new swimming pool in Wanstead would make a great difference to the local community. There are very few swimming facilities in Redbridge and most people have to travel out the borough.

“We know that swimming is great exercise and learning to swim can also be a life-saving skill.

“Mr Wilding has voiced scepticism about the pools but its funding won’t be linked to cuts elsewhere.”

Mr Wilding, a Conservative candidate, criticised Redbridge Council for claiming they have no money for essential services while funding projects like the swimming pool.

He said: “As a former pupil of Wanstead High it’s great to have a pool for kids but I have real concerns about the cost of building these things. 

“The council say they have no money but find seven or eight million pounds for a new pool. 

“If they can afford to build new pools why can’t they keep meals on wheels and highways maintenance? Why can’t they keep essential services? 

“I have no issue with the principle but it’s the cost that’s the problem.”

Mr Donovan, a Labour activist, agreed with Ms Blackman.

He said: “News of a new pool is a very popular with people on the streets and doorsteps of Wanstead. A new pool will save young and old having to travel if they want to swim. 

“It will also make for a healthier community.”