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Despite the opposition of the Labour group at Wandsworth Council and weeks of activity by Labour councillors to change the Council’s plans, this week the Conservatives voted to sell playing fields at Elliott School.

The Conservatives voted for the sale even though a petition with 56,000 names against the sale was presented to the Council Leader, Ravi Govindia, deputations from numerous local residents were made, and a letter of protest by Dame Kelly Holmes was read at Tuesday’s Finance and Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting at the Town Hall.

Labour also points out that the sale breaks Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent Olympic legacy pledge, made to the BBC, that playing fields will only be sold if a school is closed. Elliott School remains open and converts to an Academy in September.

The Leader of the Labour Group on Wandsworth Council, Rex Osborn, said:
“Although we are all in agreement that Elliott is in urgent need of refurbishment, the Council's argument, that a sale of its playing fields is the only solution to fund this, has never adequately been made. This argument is particularly questionable now we know that the Independent School Playing Fields Advisory Panel actually advised against the sale”.

Over the next decade pupil numbers at the school are expected to swell when the current baby-boomers that have filled Wandsworth’s primary schools reach secondary school age. Space will be at a premium and it was for this reason the Panel advised against the sale. Developers plan to build luxury flats on the open space.

Peter Carpenter, Labour Councillor for Roehampton, managed to win concessions from the Council at last month’s committee meeting, considerably reducing the proposed size of land to be sold, and on hearing the Panel’s advice, Labour voted against the sale of any land this week.

Peter said:
“The local Labour Party worked closely with residents, school governors and the ‘Save Elliot School’ campaign to preserve as much of the school grounds as possible. The Conservative Councillors, wanted to sell off key assets of the school including the Technology block and Gymnasium. We are grateful to the many local residents who got behind us and helped save 60% of the land. Without working together, the Conservatives would have sold off much more.”

August 24, 2012