Protest Meeting Over Plans For New South Wimbledon Free School

Campaigners fear it could result in closure of High Path Community Centre

More than 60 people attended a meeting to discuss plans for a new free school in South Wimbledon on Monday (September 19).

It is understood that the plan, involving a secondary school for more than 1,000 pupils, would mean the loss of Merton Abbey Primary School's playing field and the relocation of a centre for adults with learning difficulties.

The plans, which have been discussed at a secret Merton Borough council meeting, are thought to involve closing the High Path Community Centre for a free school run by the Harris Academy to be based.

It is understood to involve the following sites:

  • The playing field of Merton Abbey Primary School
  • The High Path Community Resource Centre
  • Domex Appliance Services, High Path 
  • The Elim Pentecostal Church, High Path.

Monday's meeting took place at the Parish Hall of St John the Divine on the High Path estate, and was organised by the High Path Community Association and was chaired by its chair Cypren Edmunds.

Mr Edmunds explained that the meeting had been organised to give those affected the chance to learn about what was planned.

Former Councillor Peter Walker said: "I am extremely sad that a Labour Council should be planning this school which is in the wrong place and on a site which is less than half the size set down for local authority secondary schools by the Department of Education. In addition the scheme threatens the viability of Merton Abbey Primary school by taking away most of their small playing field."

Other speakers included: Sue Hubbert representing the carers of the 80 adults with learning disabilities attending the Community Centre; Melissa Murrill, a parent representing parents of children attending Merton Abbey Primary school; Nicole McKenzie, who spoke on behalf of the High Path Community Association.

Merton Council Deputy Leader Councillor Mark Allison said afterwards: “Parents are crying out for a good new secondary school in the Wimbledon area and we are working with the government and the Harris Federation to ensure one opens soon, offering local children a really good education near to where they live.

"We’re happy to reassure residents that other services in the area will continue to be provided in future, but parents will be rightly furious if we put the school at risk by undermining commercially sensitive negotiations by responding to inaccurate leaks. We will announce full details when we can, and ask all those who have the best interests of our children to bear with us.”

The council also points out that most secondary school pupils make their own way to school by public transport and the site is well connected to public transport. It said the building scheme is being implemented by the Government’s Education Funding Agency, and they will be working on a detailed design.

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September 21, 2016

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People attending the protest meeting