CONTROVERSIAL plans to invest £9million on Billericay swimming pool will be reviewed.

The plans, put forward by former Basildon Labour Party leader Gavin Callaghan, were revealed in a shock announcement earlier this year.

Though the news the dated pool would be knocked down and rebuilt with a range of new facilities was happily received by many Billericay residents, concerns about the cost were also raised after it emerged First Strokes, which leases the pool from Basildon Council, claimed to have an alternative plan at a much lower cost.

Councillor Andrew Baggott, the new Conservative leader of the council, said: “We fully intend to look at exactly where that £9million actually came from – the announcement came as a huge surprise and so I feel that there needs to be a further investigation into how a redevelopment could be funded.

“Personally, I believe that £9million is an extortionate amount of taxpayers’ money to be putting towards a new swimming pool, especially when other very well-costed options were offered at a fraction of the price.”

First Strokes, which invested around £250,000 in the building, submitted a report in early 2018 stating that part-renovation costing £550,000 could ensure the viability of the pool for the next 15 years.

Chairman of the Billericay Residents’ Association, John Buchanan, 64, of Meadow Rise, said: “The residents’ association would be more than happy to work with the new administration to work towards a solution – as long as the voices of the users, the residents, and the current leaseholders are all taken into fair consideration.

“The pool is important to us and many of our residents, so a full consultation is vital.”

However, Basildon Labour have restated their beliefs that the expense of the rebuild is necessary to provide a long-term solution.

The party maintains the £9million solution for a top quality facility is the best option.

Councillor Adele Brown, leader of the Labour group, said: “We believe that real investment needs to be made into ensuring the swimming pool can continue to serve the community for decades to come.

“We are dedicated to investing in our facilities, towns, and people, and are confident that a rebuild is the best way forward.”