Wandsworth school 'deal' angers residents

WANDSWORTH council, which did not levy a poll tax last year, has been accused of 'selling off the family silver' by closing down a primary school and leasing it to a private preparatory school.

Residents of the Putney Vale council estate opposed the closure of Beaver's Holt in July, but were told that falling numbers meant the school was no longer economically feasible.

According to Labour councillors who represent the ward, parents were appalled to learn that The Hall preparatory school moved into Beaver's Holt last week, while their children were preparing to travel by bus to another council primary school a mile down the A3.

'It is astonishingly insensitive, a real slap in the face for parents,' Fred Ponsonby, deputy leader of the Labour group on the council and a councillor for the area, said. 'We believe there was a case for retaining the school. The estate is in an isolated position, with Wandsworth Common on one side, a cemetery on another and the A3 on the third. Now children have to be bussed a mile away while they see other kids going into their old school.'

The school row has come as the council prepares to auction off five playgrounds, which it says are either no longer used by children or are unsafe, but which some parents have asked to be retained. The council adds that it spent pounds 1.3m last year on refurbishing other play areas.

Earlier decisions to introduce charges for home helps and to privatise school catering and cleaning services have added to speculation that the council is trying to limit the impact of the new council tax. 'It will definitely not be zero like it was under the community charge,' a spokeswoman said. 'But we are always looking at ways of keeping costs down and making sure there are no services surplus to demand. We are a cost-effective council. There are no particular cost-cutting exercises for the council tax.'

The council will not speculate publicly on what its council tax level will be but the last estimate to its Policy and Finance Committee in July was pounds 384, based on figures which it says will have changed by now. Taking into account possible government relief, Labour expects the average household charge to be about pounds 200.

'They're selling off the family silver to keep that figure as low as possible while cutting essential services,' Tony Belton, the Labour group leader, said. 'This is still a council operating on Thatcherite dogma. Beaver's Holt school has been leased until January, but we fully expect a sale to follow.'

James Donald-Adkin, who is chairman of the council's property committee, agreed that a sale would follow, but to the highest commercial bidder, not necessarily to The Hall school. 'We have 6,000 surplus school places in the borough and it was considered that Beaver's Holt was no longer viable,' he said. 'The Hall has a fixed-term contract until January when we will examine the position to see if anyone else is interested. Our aim is to maximise the income for the council.

'We will be considering other possible offers. In the meantime, the short-term lease is not only providing an income at an attractive commercial rate, it is also saving us money on security and heating,' Mr Donald-Adkin added.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Sport
Dwight Gayle (left) celebrates making it 1-1 with Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak
premier leagueReds falter to humbling defeat
Sport
Harry Kane
premier leagueLive minute-by-minute coverage
News
The letter, purported to be from the 1970s, offered a message of gender equality to parents

When it comes to promoting equality of the sexes, we tend to think that we’ve come a long way in the past 40 years.

News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin