Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond denied access and reporter evicted from Merton Council public meeting at Dundonald Primary School

Wimbledon Guardian: Denied: Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond was not allowed in the meeting at Dundonald Primary School Denied: Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond was not allowed in the meeting at Dundonald Primary School

A public meeting about the expansion of a primary school descended into farce last night after the MP was denied entry and the Wimbledon Guardian was asked to leave for trying to take photos and video recordings.

Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond claimed it was “scandal” after he was denied entry into Dundonald Primary School for a public meeting due to start at 7.30pm, but attracted so many visitors that no one was allowed in the building from 7.15pm.

Billed as a Merton Council public consultation meeting , about expanding Dundonald Primary School, there were over 100 people left waiting outside who were not able to hear arguments put forward by the cabinet member for education, Councillor Peter Walker (Labour).

Stephen Hammond MP: "It's a scandal"

Mr Hammond said: “I turned up at 7.30 to come to an advertised public meeting. I had just assumed they hadn’t opened the doors in time and there was a huge crowd outside and I was told they’re not allowing anyone in.

“I think it’s scandalous. Clearly there are a number of local residents and a number of local parents, all of whom are very concerned about the possibilities and what might happen here... to organise a public meeting and not allow them to have their say is scandalous and wrong.

“This is a scandal and Merton Council really need to think about whether or not the meeting they have is really worth taking notice of today.”

Sandy Adamson, a retired civil servant brought in as an independent chairman by Merton Council’s director of education, Yvette Stanley, banned the Wimbledon Guardian from taking photos and recordings and threatened to shut down the meeting.

Other speakers at the meeting included shadow education spokesman, Councillor Richard Hilton (Conservative), school headteacher Fiona Duffy, and a spokeswoman from the Save Dundonald Rec campaign group.

The campaign group, which argues the expansion could break a legal covenant which prevents further development on Dundonald Recreation Ground, has obtained over 1,000 signatures from residents and parents who are against the council’s plans.

Councillor David Dean (Conservative, Dundonald ward): “Meeting was packed with Labour activists”

This morning, Councillor Walker said: “I’m sorry you were barred from using your camera, but it was an independent chairman and that was his decision.

“The people from the Save Dundonald Rec campaign marched in at 6.45pm and took many seats. We had 150 people not allowed in so we will have another meeting for them.

“To say that it was packed with Labour activists is just wrong. I did say during the meeting that there are some 7,000 people in Dundonald ward who will have different opinions and may not have them represented.”

Did you manage to get into the meeting? What did you think? Leave a comment below, call 020 8722 6335 or email: ooakes@london.newsquest.co.uk.

Comments (6)

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3:56pm Thu 9 Jun 11

Angela M says...

I used to live opposite this school (and the recreation ground). More school places may be needed locally, but this is not the school to do it. Besides the destruction of public green space, this road can not take any more traffic.
I used to live opposite this school (and the recreation ground). More school places may be needed locally, but this is not the school to do it. Besides the destruction of public green space, this road can not take any more traffic. Angela M

4:41pm Thu 9 Jun 11

cgollop says...

The principle is about protecting open space for all the residents of Merton, irrespective of their needs and abilities. Building on the Rec would set a dangerous precedent for possible future sell-offs and development. For Councillor Judge to say last night that planning control was the best way to protect the park, well it's the Council that sets the planning guidelines and they can change those guidelines or simply override them as they have done in the past.
The principle is about protecting open space for all the residents of Merton, irrespective of their needs and abilities. Building on the Rec would set a dangerous precedent for possible future sell-offs and development. For Councillor Judge to say last night that planning control was the best way to protect the park, well it's the Council that sets the planning guidelines and they can change those guidelines or simply override them as they have done in the past. cgollop

10:07am Fri 10 Jun 11

parksaver says...

the whole consultation process is a disgrace apparently presided over by a counciller facing misconduct allegations..
the whole consultation process is a disgrace apparently presided over by a counciller facing misconduct allegations.. parksaver

12:19pm Sun 12 Jun 11

pwalker says...

Firstly a second public consultation meeting has been arrangedso those who were not able to get in to the meeting last week can attend. It will be at St Andrews Church Hall Herbert Road, SW19 on Wednesday 22 June.

I am the Cabinet Member in Merton with the responsibility for Education. Like many other London Boroughs we are experiencing a rapid increase in the number of 4 year olds wishing to enter our schools

In Merton we have had a 30% increase in recent years.

I took over this role a year ago and found that we were desperate for more accomodation for young children in our schools. My idea was to expand good and outstanding primary schools rather than build new schools for which we did not have the money. It means that we use our excellent existing Heads and teachers who are in place and can meet the need.

However due to a surprisingly hostile and misleading campaign there is the chance that this expansion could be lost. The anti campaign are claiming that this expansion will reduce the amount of open space and ruin the adjacent park

I live very close to the school and the park and have for a number of years with others, worked to improve the park.

The proposal is to replace the delapidated single story park pavillion and use its footprint to build a two story building for the school. This would also provide new public toilets and public changing rooms. There will be no loss of space and the park would be greatly improved.

At present children need to live within 200 metres of the school gate to get a place. If we expand it will mean we can admit children living around 700 metres away.

I do hope those who support this expansion will show theuir support by writing to me or the Council so we can defeat this misleading and dangerous local campaign to oppose the expansion of an school with an outstanding Ofsted rating

Councillor Peter Walker
peter.walker@merton.
gov.uk
Merton Civic Centre
London Road
Morden
SM4 5DX
Firstly a second public consultation meeting has been arrangedso those who were not able to get in to the meeting last week can attend. It will be at St Andrews Church Hall Herbert Road, SW19 on Wednesday 22 June. I am the Cabinet Member in Merton with the responsibility for Education. Like many other London Boroughs we are experiencing a rapid increase in the number of 4 year olds wishing to enter our schools In Merton we have had a 30% increase in recent years. I took over this role a year ago and found that we were desperate for more accomodation for young children in our schools. My idea was to expand good and outstanding primary schools rather than build new schools for which we did not have the money. It means that we use our excellent existing Heads and teachers who are in place and can meet the need. However due to a surprisingly hostile and misleading campaign there is the chance that this expansion could be lost. The anti campaign are claiming that this expansion will reduce the amount of open space and ruin the adjacent park I live very close to the school and the park and have for a number of years with others, worked to improve the park. The proposal is to replace the delapidated single story park pavillion and use its footprint to build a two story building for the school. This would also provide new public toilets and public changing rooms. There will be no loss of space and the park would be greatly improved. At present children need to live within 200 metres of the school gate to get a place. If we expand it will mean we can admit children living around 700 metres away. I do hope those who support this expansion will show theuir support by writing to me or the Council so we can defeat this misleading and dangerous local campaign to oppose the expansion of an school with an outstanding Ofsted rating Councillor Peter Walker peter.walker@merton. gov.uk Merton Civic Centre London Road Morden SM4 5DX pwalker

9:11am Mon 13 Jun 11

Dundonald Rec user says...

Councillor Walker is quick to "rubbish" Protect Dundonald Rec. Is it because they have:
- worked to ensure that the local community as a whole is aware of Merton Council's plans to build on Dundonald Rec
-made them aware that the proposed build would breach a restrictive covenant that has been respected for 118 years?

Merton Council's own consultation document fails to mention the restrictive covenant protecting the Rec, or the intention to destroy the bowling green: both details likely to influence local residents' views of the plans.

Who is the misleading party here?

Let's have some relevant facts from Merton Council (eg demand for school places in Dundonald Ward)/clarification of what the "enhancements" for the Rec will be (as the plans simply seem to involve appropriating land from public use to school use), rather than this childish mud-throwing and vague promises unsupported by fact.
Councillor Walker is quick to "rubbish" Protect Dundonald Rec. Is it because they have: - worked to ensure that the local community as a whole is aware of Merton Council's plans to build on Dundonald Rec -made them aware that the proposed build would breach a restrictive covenant that has been respected for 118 years? Merton Council's own consultation document fails to mention the restrictive covenant protecting the Rec, or the intention to destroy the bowling green: both details likely to influence local residents' views of the plans. Who is the misleading party here? Let's have some relevant facts from Merton Council (eg demand for school places in Dundonald Ward)/clarification of what the "enhancements" for the Rec will be (as the plans simply seem to involve appropriating land from public use to school use), rather than this childish mud-throwing and vague promises unsupported by fact. Dundonald Rec user

10:40am Mon 13 Jun 11

parksaver says...

Is this Councillor the same Peter Walker who signed a letter sent two years ago to the Labour Party NEC calling for "firm moral leadership"?? Instead of whinging about people who have the temerity to challenge his plans, he should deal with the issues raised in a mature and open way. He has only himself to blame for the strategy to deal with the issue of school places and with BG turning him down and defeat in prospect with Dundonald, perhaps he should contemplate his future.
Is this Councillor the same Peter Walker who signed a letter sent two years ago to the Labour Party NEC calling for "firm moral leadership"?? Instead of whinging about people who have the temerity to challenge his plans, he should deal with the issues raised in a mature and open way. He has only himself to blame for the strategy to deal with the issue of school places and with BG turning him down and defeat in prospect with Dundonald, perhaps he should contemplate his future. parksaver

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