Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond denied access and reporter evicted from Merton Council public 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.”
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