Outraged Wandsworth teachers and parents protest against children’s services cuts


An hour-long demonstration took place outside Wandsworth Town Hall on Wednesday night.


By Alex Christian

Outraged schoolteachers and parents protested against Wandsworth Council’s cuts to children’s services outside the Town Hall on Wednesday night.

The hour-long demonstration followed the Council’s sale of school land, closures to adventure playgrounds, and cuts to lollipop men funding.

Organised by Battersea and Wandsworth Trade Union Council, the protest preceded the Council’s monthly meeting and was backed by GMB and the National Union of Teachers.

Wandsworth NUT Secretary and BWTUC Secretary, Spencer Barnshaw, said: “We want to make it very clear to the Council that affecting children in this way is unacceptable.

“They say they have to make cuts – we say they have £300million in their reserves and if they really do have to make cuts, why is it that all cuts seem to affect children of this borough?”

The scaling-down of school-crossing patrols has caused controversy and worries over a rise in car accidents in the borough.

Mr Barnshaw added: “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that children will die or be seriously injured because of the dark mornings and nights – the Council must change their minds, surely.”

However, Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services, Councillor Kathy Tracey, said pedestrian traffic lights in the borough should replace the need for lollipop men.

“It’s a very difficult one but I think if parents really feel it’s dangerous for their children to cross the road it’s not that difficult to raise the funds to pay for a lollipop person.

“Each one in itself is not very expensive because they only work a couple of hours a day but over the whole borough it’s obviously quite a large saving.”

Further controversy was caused by the demolishment of York Gardens adventure playground on October 2nd, despite interest from a children’s support group, Kids Group, in taking over the site. 

“We have not slammed the door in the face of Kids Company,” Council Leader Ravi Govindia said during the Council meeting.

“I am confident that new organisations will come forward for the adventure playgrounds.”

However, one angry protestor heckled Cllr Govindia. She shouted: “The community are furious with you. You are letting the children down.”

Cllr Tracey said the Council are in fact redeveloping the playgrounds following consultation with the borough’s children.

“It was a very small protest and the protestors that were there are just not listening to what we’re doing at the adventure playground,” she added.

“At York Gardens we are providing a £150,000 investment – we are going to create a much larger playground for 0-13 year olds and make it a more accessible facility.”

Further work is set to start on two more adventure playgrounds in Battersea Park and Kimber Road over the winter.

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