Labour Divide Over South Wimbledon Free School Plans

Local campaigners say they were ordered to dump 40,000 leaflets

Wimbledon Labour Party says it was warned a leaflet it produced on the controversial free school planned for South Wimbledon was in breach of party rules.

It has told its 1,100 local members that 40,000 leaflets detailing their objections to the plan, which is backed by Labour-run Merton Council, are now destined for the re-cycle bin.

The local members were told in a recent newsletter that the Labour Party's Governance and Legal Unit contacted the local branch and said the planned leaflets would be in breach the Labour Party rules.

In the newsletter they stated: "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."

Opponents of the planned Harris Academy free school claim the site is too small for more than 1,000 pupils, is in the wrong part of the borough and would involve closing the High Path Community Centre.

Peter Walker former Cabinet member for Education in Merton said: "This censorship of the sincerely held views of Labour Party members in Wimbledon about this key local issue is indefensible. 

"The Harris Free school plan will dump 1,100 teenage pupils on a cramped location adjacent to a busy main road which has no pavements. The planned site is less than half the size which the Department of Education says should be for a secondary school."

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March 16, 2016

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A 2016 protest rally outside Merton Abbey school