A Strong Voice for Croydon Central - Gavin Barwell MP
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Save Our School Fields
18/11/2014 13:50:00


In their manifesto for the local elections, Labour said they viewed open spaces as “key assets for the local community”.

If you read those words at the time, you probably interpreted them as meaning that Labour believed that these were places which needed to be protected.

It turns out they had a much more sinister meaning. The Labour Council has just published a paper entitled Asset Strategy 2014-2019 proposing to build over them:

“A number of school sites have very large playing fields and ancillary land that may be considered excessive for the number of students that attend the school. Where this may be the case the schools will be identified and opportunities considered for development of affordable housing”.

(In case you’re interested, when the Council talks about “affordable housing” it means council housing, not homes local people can afford to buy).

This is an appalling policy. There are plenty of brownfield sites in Croydon suitable for development. What we’re short of - particularly in the centre and north of the borough - is open spaces. Yet at a time when more and more children aren’t getting enough exercise, our Council is planning to build on their playing fields. No wonder Edward Handley of the Croydon Playing Fields Association said he was “horrified” when he was told about these plans.

When the Croydon Advertiser challenged the councillor responsible - Simon Hall, who represents Fieldway ward - he said a list had been drawn up of all schools in Croydon comparing pupil numbers with playing field size but “he was reluctant to give specific examples”. So there you have it: a hit-list has been drawn up but this councillor - whose salary we all pay - won’t tell us which schools are on it. When pushed he admitted “some are in the New Addington area” and finally named one, Castle Hill Primary in his own ward.

If you feel as angry about this as I do, please sign the petition I am collecting to try to force the Council to think again at www.gavinbarwell.com/saveourschoolfields - and forward this link to your neighbours to encourage them to sign it too.

I have submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Council to try to get hold of the list that Cllr Hall refers to.

I have also written to all schools in the borough to see if any of them think they have “excessive” playing fields.

I have asked my Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green and UKIP opponents at the next election to join me in campaigning against this daft idea. I hope that they will get behind this and make it a cross-party campaign.

I will keep those who sign the petition updated on progress with our campaign.

Comment on this blog


Readers' Comments

On 18/11/2014 17:04:00 Paula Goodman wrote:
Doesn't this also run contrary to the increasing demand for school places in the borough? If in the future, a school needs to expand but has had the land sold off and built on, how will the council address such a need?
On 18/11/2014 20:27:00 Paul Ogier wrote:
Re. playing fields - seems to me to be a legacy and continuation of the Conservative Governments of the 80's and 90's which at the time I also regarded as "appalling" though the Labour Council where I lived at that time rarely if ever used it. How do academies stand given that public assets are transferred to non-local and undemocratic corporate organisations? What was the asset strategy of the previous council when Taberner House etc was transferred to private developers?

Whats wrong with (and "appalling"!) about concil housing? - a large swathe of which, became the the affordable housing of the 80's and 90's but the governments of the day would not allow the proceeds to re-invested in house building of the 80's and 90's and thus avoid house price inflation and housing bubbles of the late 20 th century and associated debt.

On 20/11/2014 22:18:00 Adam Kellett wrote:
Well said, Paula. It is strange how we were told that that there were no sites that could be used for secondary school expansions but there is room for housing estates!

Croydon Council want to squeeze a secondary school on to the Ryelands site that will have almost no amenity space for the kids.

How can that be justified while they simultaneously build on school playing fields?




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Gavin Barwell, 133 Wickham Road, CR0 8TE, Tel  020 8663 8741      © Gavin Barwell  2019       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG