Ken Livingstone Speaks Out Against Sale of Elliott School Fields

Stating that he believes the "plan is unlawful"

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Commenting on the proposed sale of playing fields at Elliott School, Wandsworth Ken Livingstone, Labour’s candidate for London Mayor said: “I am opposed to the sale of school playing fields in all but the most exceptional case. There is nothing exceptional about this case, it is simply the fact that Wandsworth Council has failed to invest in and maintain Elliot School over a long period of time and that their colleagues in the Tory-led Government cancelled the planned investment of £40million that the school so desperately needs.”

“In London’s Olympic year it is a scandal that Tory Councils are selling off school playing fields to pay for
their own government’s cuts to education. In this case one of the poorer parts of the borough is being asset stripped to fund investment in one of the wealthiest parts of town.”

“I believe that this plan is unlawful – the playing fields are not surplus, the sale is not an act of last resort and the proceeds are not being used to fund improvements to outdoor facilities as required by Law. Michael Gove must use his powers to block this sale.”

The Mayoral candidate stated that Elliot School: ".. is based in a relatively poor area of Wandsworth, with families earning less than 2/3 of the average income in London. Now Wandsworth Council proposes to sell off the School’s playing fields for development so that they can pay to acquire sites for Free Schools in wealthier areas of the borough including Bollingbroke in Battersea and Putney Hospital. Meanwhile, Wandsworth council is sitting on
reserves of nearly £200 million which could be used to refurbish the school".

Wandsworth's children's services spokesman Cllr Kathy Tracey said:
"Ken Livingstone knows nothing about this school and the complex issues it faces. If he did, he wouldn't have spelled its name wrong.

"The simple fact of the matter is that the council is currently spending tens of millions of pounds on improving local schools, providing extra places in some of the borough's best performing and most popular ones and also on setting up new schools to give parents even greater choice when it comes to the education of their children.

"Elliott needs a multi-million pound investment to provide the kind of school building and facilities that will allow its pupils to thrive. Mr Livingstone may think he can just magic money out of thin air, but in the real world the rest of us have to budget properly and work within the nation's financial constraints. These plans, which are the subject of ongoing public consultation, have the full backing of Elliott's headteacher and governors and are designed to deliver a great school fit for the 21st Century."


April 27, 2012