Friday, August 17, 2012

Child’s Play

Give Gove the Sack
I am asked by Ron Jeffries to publish this from Avaas (AKA 38 Degrees)

Education Secretary Michael Gove is selling off our school sports fields to rich property developers at a staggering rate -- leaving a generation of British kids with nowhere to play. But he’s overreached with his latest sell-off attempt, and if we stand together now we can stop him.

Rather than investing in education, Gove is on the verge of approving the sale of school fields at Elliott School in London -- the latest in a string of 21 sales under his watch. This could turn almost half of the school’s grounds into luxury residential apartments. But under growing community pressure, Gove is hesitating, sending out conflicting messages about whether he approves the sell-off.

The local community is already mobilising against the sale, and a strong national outcry supporting this opposition can force Gove to back down and save these school fields -- sign the petition now and share with everyone you know.

Despite the Coalition's promise to halt the sale of school land and a pledge from Cameron to prioritise school sports after the Olympics, the students at Elliott School are only the latest victims in a series of government broken promises. This is a government that would rather sell precious outdoor space to fund vital school maintenance, instead of investing in education.

This time, it isn’t any ordinary school. Listed as a heritage building by the government, English Heritage has called the school one of the finest built by the London County Council. The government’s own heritage listing acknowledges that the unique landscape is a key part of this heritage -- the very landscape Gove now wants to sell off.

But with the focus on school sports during the Olympics, Gove has been coming under increasing pressure. Despite earlier messages that Gove would approve the sale, now David Cameron himself has personally insisted that no decision has yet been taken. A national outcry can ensure these school fields are saved, and a line is drawn in the sand against any future sales

Alex, Paul, Antonia, Rich, Emma, Ricken and the Avaaz Community Petitions team

What the press have to say:

School sports fields in danger as government relaxes rules (The Guardian)

Keep The Flame Alive: Team sports blow for schools (The Telegraph)

Government in disarray over school sport (The Guardian)

School playing fields 'in danger' as ministers relax rules on eve of the Olympics (Daily Mail)

Save Elliott School campaign

28 comments:

  1. NeighbourhoodWatcher6:49 pm, August 17, 2012

    So, do we know of any areas of Redbridge that may be under threat?

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    1. If recent experience is anything to go by we will find out when the "For Sale" notice goes up.

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    2. More like a "Sold" notice.

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  2. I hate to upset the story with facts, but perhaps the following might be of interest.

    The previous Government permitted dozens of school playing fields to be sold, but set up an Advisory Committee on the subject.

    Of the 35 cases coming to the Advisory Committee under this Government, 30 sales were allowed WITH THE FULL APPROVAL OF THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE.

    1 application was withdrawn.

    1 sale was permitted by Gove because the original school had moved to a better site and had ample new facilities, so the old land could be sold.

    1 sale was permitted by Gove because the school had merged with two other schools at other sites. Keeping the old playing field would have required pupils being bussed in to use it - a solution neither green nor practical.

    1 sale was permitted because the land actually wastn't a playing field and hadn't been in use for many years.

    Which leaves Elliott - I can't say what is the right answer here, but I understand the land is tarmaced and has some tennis courts on it. It's on a slope, so can't be used for games requiring a flat surface, and isn't suitable for playtime recreation apparently.

    In conclusion, with all due respect to the Elliott campaigners, we have ONE contentious case out of 35 - hardly justifies the scaremongering, does it?

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    1. "It's on a slope". So, famously, is Yeovil Town Football Club.

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    2. There are no facts, only interpretations. - Friedrich Nietzsche

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    3. We could play a game of 'swap the quotation' for the rest of the week, but it doesn't alter the FACT that in 30 out of 35 cases, the Advisory Committee's advice was followed; that 1 further case was withdrawn, that 1 case is still in contention, and that in only 3 cases did the Education Secretary not follow the Committee's advice.

      My 'interpretation' is therefore that 3 out of 35 does not in any way justify the wild and misleading rant of the first sentence in the original post.

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    4. Judith, that's the way Avaaz write.

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  3. Re Elliott School - Labour Councillors in Wandsworth supported (nem con) the sale of surplus land at Elliott. The Labour Ward Councillor supports the sale because it is not land used for organised sport, is largely tarmaced and contains empty/redundant buildings. The proceeds will be spent on a new sports centre/gym for the school. The pupils will continue their current outdoor sporting arrangements.

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    1. So why not use it for allotments - here's the waiting list. An outdoor activity and learning centre for the kids right on their doorstep.

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    2. It's the school's land, so it's their choice, B21 - not your.

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    3. Oh! I thought it was a community asset and belonged to the people - silly me!

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    4. But the sale is being used for the benefit of the school community - not for producing turnips.

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    5. If the economy was managed properly in the first place there would be enough funds to provide and enhance community schools for the benefit of everybody without the need to sell off assets. This is merely a ruse by the latest generation of failed political Turnips to create an illusion of “economic activity” and prevent GDP from hitting the deck instead of providing a framework that enables wealth creation, not just for an elite few.

      It’s a game of avoiding responsibility for failure and blaming everybody else, see here, and it is led and promoted from the very top.

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    6. You can just imagine the local council-tax payers' reactions if they were obliged to foot the bill for demolishing and removing the unused buildings, digging up and removing all the tarmac, soil-testing to ensure the land was safe for growing food, and then importing sufficient soil for allotments!

      If the desire for allotments is so great, why have swathes of the site opposite Clore Tikvah been empty for years?

      As far as Elliott is concerned, it is simply an example of time altering needs - you are stuck, Weggis, in a bucolic dreamworld where money would be grown on special trees and handed out by commissars for projects that they alone approved. And as has been proved by History, those People's Commissars turn into the next generation of the Elite (and usually a pretty murderous lot).

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    7. Weggis - you, B21 and I (together with millions of other people) all have one thing in common. Our homes now stand where somebody else's countryside used to be.

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    8. Morris, true but more accurately it was probably farmland and before that the private hunting grounds of the Monarch.

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    9. Maybe Weggis - but I think Judith has hit the note of reality.

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    10. Judith, there is a waiting list for the allotments opposite Clore Tikvah. Now that the school is there, and there are more eyes, the security problem has diminished and take up has increased.

      It was the taxpayer who funded the acquisition of the land and the building of the school in the first place. Most allotment societies will clear and prepare a site themselves and will have access to grants from Charitable Trusts.

      It is true that time alters needs, and in Wandsworth there is a demand for allotments.

      As for being stuck in a "bucolic dreamworld", if only. The more I think about it the more it seems like a living nightmare.

      I shall have to submit a guest post on the subject.

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    11. There are times when I have difficulty distinguishing between the outpourings of B21 and the ramblings of Weggis.

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  4. "Our homes now stand where somebody else's countryside used to be" - spot on!

    Perhaps Weggis believes we should go back to a time when we had a much smaller population (because of poverty and disease) and so had lots more room for allotments. Let's do away with factories and roads and hospitals whilst we're about it.

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    1. Suggesting that another holds a view which they have not expressed is the hallmark of someone who has lost their cool and the debate.

      Nevertheless, it remains the case that there is a large increase in the demand for allotments and it is a function of the increased number of “homes” being built without gardens and in gardens.

      It is also the case that most of our factories are now housing estates and hospitals seem to be following suit.

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    2. Methinks thou dost protest too much.

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    3. Merely responding to the points raised.

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    4. Judith is right, there are brambles on the site at Fullwell Avenue. There are also nettles, thistles and various grasses.
      Our allotment could be kept in a better shape but we are working on a shoe string depending on volunteers, most of them on their last legs. However our allotment site is a God send to bees, bumble bees, and various butterflies and we do have fruiting pyracanthas ready for the fieldfares. Also, we are well within the rules for occupancy and maintenance. We do our best. We could do better, I know.
      Now, the point of this: very recently, I noticed a yellow planning application on a lamp post in Mossord Lane, opposite Timberdene, for posts to be erected to support a wire, somewhere, in the vicinity, not clear where. Would Judith, with her interest in Clore Tikva or even the local community know if Clore Tikva is going to be included in that special circle? The various bits of planning application notices dotted in the vicinity are vague, to say the least!

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    5. This map Click! coutesy of the "Telegraph" is interesting as it gives reasons for disposal. The money raised has in some cases financed improvements to the remainder of the school site.

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