Defiant Wandsworth school campaign group vows to continue fighting proposals


The council has proposed to fund the refurbishment of the grade II-listed Elliott School, which is in a serious state of disrepair.


By Jasmin Leitner

They may be down, but a defiant campaign group is certainly not out and vows to keep fighting against proposals to sell some of the grounds of a Wandsworth school.

The council has proposed to fund the refurbishment of the grade II-listed Elliott School, which is in a serious state of disrepair, by selling a portion of the site identified as “surplus”.

At Wednesday night’s Finance and Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting, discussions regarding the school were postponed as a report by the Borough Valuer wasn’t ready.

Labour councillor Peter Carpenter argued that in the interests of openness and transparency the committee should still listen to the opposition, but this was voted against.

Ed Lattimore of the Save Elliott School campaign said: “Democracy has not prevailed but we will live to fight another day.”

Following the committee’s decision, the architect and former pupil said he felt they were being silenced, particularly as this was the second time a committee had refused to hear them.

SES, residents of Westleigh Avenue, a spokesperson for former teachers and governors as well as architecture heritage preservation group the 20th Century Society all wanted to make deputations.

A council spokesperson said: “Our sole aim throughout has been to come up with coherent and realistic plans to provide a top quality and high achieving school for local children. 

“We have listened to local people and significantly scaled back the amount of land we need to fund the school’s refurbishment.”

A local authority can only sell playing fields as a last resort and this must be demonstrated with other criteria in a Section 77 application to the Secretary of Education.

Originally the council proposed to sell 56% of the grounds, including a sports hall and technology wing, six tennis courts, a football pitch, athletics facilities, an outdoor amphitheatre, a nature garden and a care-takers lodge.

Following the submission of a 20-page critique on May 25thand deputations on June 11th by SES as well as proposal supporters, the council agreed in an internal meeting to reduce the amount of land proposed to 40%.

At a demonstration outside the town hall before the meeting, a former pupil now studying at Oxford said the school had been ignored for a long time.

He added: “We’re in a position where no one is can be happy. No one wants the grounds to be sold but no one wants the school to be closed either.”

However, Cabinet Member for Education Cllr Kathy Tracey, said: “We have the overwhelming support of the school’s governors, headteacher and parents to now move ahead with providing Elliott’s pupils with a bright, modern, first class school that’s fit for the 21st Century.”

The committee indicated that another meeting to discuss Elliott School and the Section 77 proposal would take place in August although a date has not yet been confirmed.

The council gave notice about the disposal of land, as it is obliged to, in the South London Press yesterday (6th July) and will also do so on 13th July.

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