Council leader sets out views on Elliott

Published: Thursday 23rd August 12

The leader of the council has written the following message for Wandsworth residents following the decision by councillors on Tuesday to endorse a proposal to generate funding for the £30m renovation of Elliott School in Putney.

Dear resident,

You will have seen this week that the council has been faced with a difficult decision in agreeing to sell some land at Elliott School in Putney to pay for its-much needed refurbishment.

The school desperately needs this money. The current school facilities are not fit for purpose. Classrooms are dilapidated-  too cold in winter, too hot in summer. Children and their parents deserve a learning environment that is fit for the 21st Century. The council has invested millions of pounds in repairs and maintenance over the years but this has simply not kept pace with the deterioration of the 1950s building. We need a different solution.

We were faced with three options:

Option 1:         Continue to place a sticking plaster over the work that the school needs, leading to further deterioration and possible closure.

Option 2:         Borrow the £25 million that we need to pay for the work, storing up problems at a time when we already have to make around £24 million of savings a year over the next two years. This option would require a borough-wide referendum so that we can increase council tax beyond the 3.49% threshold set by the government to afford the annual debt repayment charges.

Option 3:         Sell some of what is a large parcel of land, much of which is not used properly (around two thirds is concreted over and used as a car park and for redundant buildings) to pay for the majority of the costs.   The council will still be paying over £5million towards the £30+ million  cost of renovation, but this is affordable.  

Much has been said about the fact that we are apparently selling playing fields. Yes, green space is part of this land but I do not believe that these are 'playing fields' as people would normally understand them. The green land is on a slope and cannot be used for organised sport. The money from the sale of the land would provide for a new sports hall and improved hard-court sports areas to the extent where competitive sport could be played for the first time. The fact is this refurbishment will improve sports facilities at Elliott.

Most importantly option 3 is supported by the Government, by the headteacher and by the majority of parents and pupils.

I am absolutely convinced that the decision taken is in the best interests of the school, in the best interest of current and future generations of pupils and in the best interest of council tax payers across Wandsworth.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Ravi Govindia

Notes to editors:

On August 21 Wandsworth Council's Finance and Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommended the disposal of land at Elliott School to pay for the substantial upgrade of educational and sporting facilities.

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Recent comments

The opening sentence demonstrates why no-one should trust Cllr. Govindia's arguments. The words 'some land' are weasal words and totally distort what the Council is proposing. Selling 56% of the site (in the original proposal )and selling 41% of the site as now proposed is selling ' a great chunk of land' or 'a substantial amount of land' or 'selling a great deal of land'; the phrase Cllr. Govindia used does not convey the real extent of the proposal. So why did Cllr. Govindia use such a deceitful phrase? Readers of his letter must decide for themselves but to me his choice of words betrays a lack of integrity about the proposal and explains why the public should suspect the truth of the Council's statements about its plans for Elliott.
Patrick Frawley

3 September 2012

Will any homes being provided on the site be affordable to ordinary working people.In my view a developer should be required by the Council to provide a good proportion of affordable a condition of planning permission being granted

28 August 2012

Unfortunately what the leader of the Council says about improving facilities is rather far from the truth. Cllr Grimson claimed that Millfield was not better equipped than Elliott will be after the sell off - check out Millfield School on Google and just look - who do they think they are kidding.
Save our School

23 August 2012

And why are 5 empty properties in Earlsfield that have stood "surpus to requirements" for years not being sold or developed? There is substantial capital in them that is not being used. It represents public money. Alvering Library - in a privileged area - was quickly leased to a private school and Wandsworth was very coy about what it was charging this prep. school for the use of the building. Needless to say it is close to the common which it will use for sports - as will the Bolingbroke and Putney Hospitals as developed into "free" schools. Both are close to common land. Whereas Swaffield School is required to squash in more and more pupils with less and less play space. It doesn't look either sensible or fair.
Celia Blair

23 August 2012