‘Stop Wandsworth asset-stripping!’

Anti-ARK Academy protest outside the company’s offices in London
Anti-ARK Academy protest outside the company’s offices in London

THE GMB union is calling on the public in the south London borough of Wandsworth to support a campaign to stop the sale of four acres of playing fields at Elliot School in Putney to fund new buildings on the land which will become an Academy school on a much reduced site.

Wandsworth Council is planning to sell these playing fields to fund the refurbishment of the existing building and make it into an Academy.

The school charity ARK is party to these plans and will be part of a rebranding of the school and will take over the new building and the running of the school from September 2012.

Paul Maloney, GMB Senior Officer for school support staff, said: ‘Selling four acres of publicly owned school playing fields to pay for the refurbishment of one of the council’s own secondary schools, while finding £30 million to pay for a new Bolingbroke free school in the borough, shows the extent to which the “axe grinders” have taken over education policy in Wandsworth.

‘ARK has become a menace as far as developing education provision in Wandsworth is concerned.

‘They had their fingers in the plans for an elite Bolingbroke free school until GMB opposition led to changes in the planned catchment area.

‘Now they are up to their necks in these plans to sell these school playing fields. They claim to be on the side of poor and disadvantaged kids. How does getting rid of playing space do that?

‘Wandsworth Council is nothing short of a thundering disgrace in proposing the sale of these playing fields.

‘GMB is calling on the public in Wandsworth to oppose this asset-stripping of publicly owned land used as a playing field.

‘As well as sale of outdoor playing fields, the plan will also lead to the knocking down of one of the largest indoor sports halls in London and the loss of this amenity to the community.’