The Wimbledon Labour Party has claimed it has been threatened with suspension unless members destroy 40,000 leaflets that criticised plans for a new secondary school in south Wimbledon.

The location of Harris Academy Wimbledon, set to be built in Merantun Way on the High Path estate, has been a source of controversy within the Merton Labour group ever since the proposals were announced last year.

Criticisms of the plans include the size of the site, which will have to share playing fields with the nearby Merton Abbey Primary School, and the fact it has led to the forced relocation of the High Path Community Centre, which caters for adults with learning disabilities.

Wimbledon Times:

August 17: Protest held over plans to relocate High Path Community Centre for new Harris Wimbledon secondary school which will share playing fields with Merton Abbey Primary School

Sep 21: Protests over new Harris Wimbledon secondary school condemned by councillors as based on 'incomplete' and 'inaccurate' leaks​

The new free school will be run by the Harris Federation, who already own Harris Academy Merton and Harris Academy Morden.

Although the proposals have been agreed by the Labour-led Merton Council, the Wimbledon Labour Party (WLP) planned to deliver 40,000 leaflets through doors around the borough urging residents to “say no” to the plans.

However, the group have now claimed that they have been told to destroy the leaflets or risk suspension of the WLP, and said they are “being censored by the powers that be”.

An email circulated to members and supporters of the WLP on Friday, March 10, said: “We regret to have to inform members that 40,000 leaflets explaining to parents and residents why the Harris proposals for a new secondary school on the cramped Merantun Way industrial site are unacceptable, will not be delivered door-to-door as planned, and will be binned.

“It would appear that someone, without informing us, contacted the national party asking for the leaflets to be stopped.

“We have received advice from the Party’s governance and legal unit that the leaflets would be in breach of Labour Party rules, with the implicit threat that WLP would be suspended if we went ahead.

"We are astounded to have received this somewhat draconian advice, not least since the leaflet supports national party policy, which is against free schools.

“Contrary to allegations, it does not comment on, let alone criticise, the Labour administration on the council, or any of the Labour councillors who, for their own reasons, support the proposed new school.

“Nevertheless, given the formal advice from the governance and legal unit, the leaflets will not be distributed. They will instead be binned.

“We are disappointed that behind the scenes manoeuvres of this kind are taking place within the Labour Party in Merton, and that debate is being stifled in this way.”

A spokesman from the London Labour Party said: “The decision not to distribute the leaflet was taken locally after advice from the national party.”

The Merton Labour Group has been contacted for comment.

Former councillor and cabinet member for education in Merton, Peter Walker, has been an outspoken critic of the new school and organised protests last year against its proposed location.

Sep 23: 'Almighty row' between Peter Walker and Councillor Stephen Alambritis at Wimbledon Community Forum as sparks fly over plans for new school

Mr Walker said: “This censorship of the sincerely held views of Labour Party members in Wimbledon about this key local issue is indefensible.

“If this plan goes ahead it will condemn generations of local children to a sub-standard education.”

To read the leaflet, click here.