Residents react angrily to Councillor Ravi Govindia's Elliott School letter
2:00pm Friday 14th September 2012 in Top Stories
A war of words has broken out over a letter written by the leader of Wandsworth Council about controversial plans to sell off land at a Putney school.
On August 30 Councillor Ravi Govindia wrote the strongly worded piece to explain the current situation at Elliott School, which is to be converted into a £30m ARK Academy funded by selling school land - a bittlerly disputed issue which had to be ratified by Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education.
In his letter Coun Govindia said: "Much has been said about the fact that we are 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."
He said the only green space "is on a slope and cannot be used for organised sport".
But a number of residents, campaigners and ex pupils have accused him of trying to mislead the public over this central issue.
Save Elliott School Campaign believes the six concrete tennis courts and a hard play area due to be sold off absolutely equate to playing fields.
Jason Leech, of SES, said: "This is the green land which is marked 'athletics facilities' on the council's own documentation. The tennis courts and multi-purpose games court are presumably irrelevant because they are not green."
They also dispute the amount of land which Coun Govindia, in the letter, says is concreted over. They believe just one third of the land is covered in concrete whereas the council leader claims it is around two thirds.
Coun Govindia also states that "competitive sport will be played for the first time" at the school following the academy's construction but former Head of PE Roy Cooper clearly remembers competitive sport there in the past.
Mr Leech added: "The Save Elliott School campaign remains bemused that Wandsworth Council continues to issue statements which purport to be factual but, actually, either cloud the truth or are downright untrue.
"We are relieved to see a gradual shift towards the truth but feel obliged to clarify the real situation of Elliott’s playing fields which our public servants continually sidestep or misrepresent."
A council spokesman said: "These issues have all been fully debated and scrutinised and the decision has now been made."