Elliott School

Despite an eloquent presentation by the Save Elliott School campaign, (read here) the Finance and Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee predictably showed that they listen to no-one and voted 7-1 to sell the playing fields at Elliott School.  Cllr Grimston had the gall to suggest that this put Elliott into the save position as Millfield School on the basis that pupils at Millfield had to travel 5 miles to a rugby pitch.  What he neglected to say was that at Millfield: 

"the main part of the School is surrounded by over 100 acres, which includes an equestrian centre, stabling for 50 horses, a 50m Olympic swimming pool, Tartan athletics track, playing fields, a putting green and an indoor tennis centre." (taken from Millfield website)

What has not been explained is why Wandsworth Council are planning to pay for the renovations.  As of the beginning of September the school will be an academy run by ARK and directly funded by the Government who have been quite prepared to fund the Bolingbroke to the tune of about £26 million according to a freedom of information request.  We understand that ARK were not prepared to take on Elliott unless the refurbishment was paid for but that begs the question: is ARK the right organisation to be running the school?

Today, 17th August, the Save Elliott School campaign had coverage on ITV news.  WAC has been given the following update from the campaign:

The council are intent on misleading the public about the situation as you will see from my posts on Streetlife (the links should still be active). The government have also said that playing fields are not involved in the sale so it appears the lies (or lack of understanding) run to the heart of the decision making process.

The school claims that the sports facilities are not used any more for sports but if you go there before school and at breaks and after school you will see many kids playing there. I also attached some photos of the facilities to prove that what the council are selling are playing fields and valuable sports facilities. Once gone these are lost for public use for ever. Luxury housing prioritised by Wandsworth council over the education of the poorest children in the borough.

off site playing fields (Dover House Lane and Barn Elms) can never replace on site facilities as it takes half a lesson to get there, uses teacher resources poorly and the allotted time slots mean these facilities are not accessible during breaks and before or after school.

Wandsworth council have long wanted to release the development potential of the site as shown in correspondence at the back of this document between National heritage and the leader of the council Edward Lister at in 1993 (the time of Elliott's grade II listing) http://dl.dropbox.com/u/65392206/Web%20links/official%20docs/Elliott%20Listing%20info%20from%20Dep.CMS.pdf 

This undermines the council justification for selling the land. 

The council have not provided evidence that this is the only alternative as legislation protecting playing fields demands. 

Sports fields and Olympics aside Elliott is a significant part of the nations is architectural and educational heritage (designed by the same group of architects responsible for the Royal Festival Hall). Many famous musicians attended and benefited from the grounds. Hot Chip, The XX, Fourtet, The maccabees, Peter Green (Fleetwood mac), Burial etc etc. Pierce Brosnan also went there.  If only he was a real life spy we might actually be able to uncover the dodgy deals that are rumored to of gone on at the council regarding the awarded development contract and back to front way they have already tendered the land (before any decision or permission for development)!!

There is loads on this case and we need more specific stories relating to Elliott. As I mentioned there is a council meeting at the town hall Tuesday the 21st August at 7pm. We will be having a DEMO outside before this meeting and need media attention and coverage of this last ditch attempt to get WBC and GOVE to change their minds about the land sale at Elliott. Please will you attend and cover the story then?

I have attached out briefing pack which is also available on the front page of our websitewww.saveelliottschool.tumblr.com

Please also refer to our report to the council at their public consultation www.saveelliottschool.wordpress.com

Our AVAAZ petition now reached over 50,000 signatures in just 3 days!!

Please publicise our GOVERNMENT E-PETITION where you can

Michael Gove has gone against the independent advice given him in approving the sale of land at Elliott School.  Read Guardian article here or the Telegraph article hereThere is a special Finance and Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, 21st August, 2012 7.00 p.m.  The agenda contains the motion to approve the sale of the land at Elliott, together with the outsourcing of the libraries.

We will be meeting outside the Town Hall at 6.30 pm


Save Elliot School Campaigners in the Public Gallery in the Council Chamber were left angry and more determined than ever to continue their opposition to Council plans to sell off more than 40% of school land including playing fields, sports facilities and the all important setting for the Grade ll listed building. 

The Opposition Labour Party had proposed that the Council take immediate action to release funding for Elliott School in order to carry out urgent repairs to the School. They tabled a serious alternative for consideration that the Council should finance the short term cash flow requirements from its surplus cash balances so that alternative funding plans could be scrutinised. The Opposition argued that the Council had failed to bring to Committee adequately broad-ranging financial background papers to allow full discussion of an appropriate financial rescue package for the Grade ll listed School. 

This motion was immediately voted down by the majority party and substituted by a shockingly disrespectful and cynical amendment that “This Council is taking the necessary steps to secure a sustainable future for Elliott School”

The leader of the Council, Ravi Govindia claimed that: ‘all heritage buildings should earn their own keep’. The statement is laughable if it weren’t so irresponsible. Councillor Kathy Tracey said that the current problems of a cold building in winter and a hot one in summer was the fault of the original architects and therefore current and future generations should not pay. Of course it’s not as simple as that. So Wandsworth are happy to deplete their educational estate, diminish the potential of a listed building of stature and reduce the educational possibilities for generations of schoolchildren to come, while absolving themselves of decades of neglect.

The appalling shame is that Wandsworth Council could have secured central government funding had they applied earlier for Building Schools for the Future (BSF). They didn’t apply until 2007, 6 years after BSF started.  After the cancellation of BSF they failed to pursue the possibility of Priority Schools Building Programme on what now appear to be spurious grounds that listed buildings are not eligible. (see DOCOMOMO letter to the AJ 4th July here)

All round Wandsworth Borough Council are letting down current and future generations and prepared to destroy part of our national heritage for the sake of fiscal dogma. Even when other sustainable alternatives are put to them they struggle to listen.

Follow the link to see more about the Campaign to save Elliott School and what you can do to help:

Joint demonstration with others: 11th July, 6.30 pm

Thanks to everyone who made it down to the town hall on Wednesday.

The Committee refused to hear any of the 4 deputations requested: notably and not previously heard from The Twentieth Century Society, DoCoMoMo UK and English Heritage; residents of Westleigh Avenue; and former teachers and governors of Elliott School. A third deputation request from the Campaign was refused on the grounds that the Campaign had had their hearing on 11th June. But much has changed since then and there was new evidence to present that was particularly important to hear because the Section 77 application could be amended up to the 11th July. N.B. The Campaign was also refused a deputation at the Education and Children Services Committee on 25th June on the recommendation that it should be made to the Finance Committee meeting on 4th July. 

This refusal was dramatic and shocking. 

The Labour Group on the Committee objected, but the Tories voted them down. The Tories said that there would be a Special Meeting of the Finance Committee in early-mid August by which time the outcome of negotiations with the bidders for buying the land would be clear, (the reason given for not allowing deputations and Committee discussion last night) and deputations could be requested for that meeting. The Chair did not concede that school holiday time was a bad idea for such a meeting. (For teachers?? Or families??) 

We understand that under the Council’s constitution, good practice notwithstanding, there is no obligation to hear or consider the views of objectors. However the decision not to hear ANY of the deputations, after having informed us that they would be heard, was considered particularly brutal and extraordinary by all.

The Architects' Journal, 4th July

Article of the week:


Despite this, The Twentieth Century Society, DoCoMoMo and English Heritage were refused deputations at the last council meeting.

Feel free to email the councillors with your concerns: 


Wandsworth Borough Council have now issued their Official Notice in the Wandsworth Guardian July 5th to dispose of 15,070 square metres of Elliott School land.


This plan showing the specified open area for disposal can be viewed during normal office hours at the Marble Hall Reception of the Town Hall.

Objections to the intended disposal must be made in writing and addressed to:

The Assistant Director of Administration (Professional Services)

Wandsworth Borough Council

Room 148

The Town Hall

Wandsworth High Street


by no later than Friday 3rd August 2012



https://tinyletter.com/saveelliottschool**URGENT** Save Elliott School DEMONSTRATION
6.30pm – 8pm Wednesday 4th July, Outside Wandsworth Town Hall

Please demonstrate with us against Wandsworth Borough Council's attempts to silence public opposition and debate about the sale of Elliott School playgrounds and sports facilities.

We are demonstrating about:

1. The proposals to sell 40% of the school (300% reduction in area of sports pitches).
2. The councils recommendations to refuse a variety of public deputations which would present new evidence and information.

Two weeks ago a special council meeting for Elliott School was cancelled in spite of the campaign and English Heritage’s preparations to address the committee. At the following education scrutiny meeting the council then refused another of our formal requests to speak. This was in spite of being told to come up with alternatives and to present further information (which we have done).

The FINAL meeting is now upon us and we understand 4 deputations are being requested:

1. SES campaign (section 77 application and alternatives)
2. Group of ex-Elliott teachers and governors (educational considerations)
3. Westleigh Avenue residents group (commercial and WBC sale process flawed)
4. The Twentieth Century Society (heritage considerations)

The first 3 of these have been recommended for refusal by the Chairman of the Committee, Leslie McDonnell (lmcdonnell@wandsworth.gov.uk). Therefore we propose a demonstration outside Wandsworth Town Hall from 6.30pm, Wednesday 4th July. 

With or without us speaking the meeting will go ahead as planned at 7.30pm in room 123 and you are all welcome!!

Since the original proposal the council has agreed to 2 minor amendments following intense public pressure. As a result the school will provide a far better environment for learning and we should all feel pleased about that. Political pressure DOES WORK and we call upon all our supporters to join us tomorrow for one final push for a further amendment to the proposals (section 77 application) which remains terribly short sighted and damaging for education and the future of this historic and much loved site. 

Bring banners, whistles, mega-phones, ghetto blasters, etc!

Does it make sense for playing fields to be sold off for housing? Why was Elliott suddenly dropped from the Building Schools for the Future programme? Yet another example of the penny pinching attitude of Wandsworth Council. Remember, this is the Council which has now found plenty of money to: give huge subsidies to tenants and first time buyers to buy properties; to buy Bolingbroke Hospital to create a "free" school when there are surplus places.  And yet, they cannot find the money to repair the schools which already exist.

Remember, once the land is sold for housing it will never come back into public ownership.