Protest Over Controversial Plans For New South Wimbledon Free School

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

A protest has been held over plans for a new free school in South Wimbledon, which could force the relocation of a centre for adults with learning difficulties.

It is understood that the plan, involving a secondary school for more than 1,000 pupils, would also mean the loss of Merton Abbey primary school's playing field.

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.

A protest rally took place outside Merton Abbey school on Monday (August 15).

Peter Walker, former council cabinet member for education, said: "Merton Council have deliberately tried to keep these plans secret from residents on the High Path Estate, and if we do not protest now the plan is likely to go ahead.

"The site, even with the land grab from the community centre and the primary school, will be less than half the area which the Department of Education stipulates is the minimum size for a secondary school of this capacity.

"They are able to do this as the school will be a privately run free school and not subject to the same regulations as a normal council run school. Despite hearing from representatives of Merton Abbey Primary school at this closed meeting, that these plans will seriously affect the school, and the children, the councillors plan to press ahead with this reckless plan. They also appeared unconcerned about the effect of losing the much valued community centre and the threat these plans pose for the planned regeneration of the High Path Estate."

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August 19, 2016

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The protest rally outside Merton Abbey school