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Exclusive: Council documents reveal potential plans to sell off community assets

An unpublished document has revealed a council’s potential plans to sell off community assets, including children’s centre sites and youth clubs.

The document, which Wandsworth council paid consultants £22,425 to help put together, was discovered after a request from Councillor Peter Graham, of the council’s Conservative opposition.

Cllr Graham said: “A very abstract paper went to the finance committee at the end of November, which mentioned consultancy work.

“I put in a request for background documents to learn more about what we were being asked to vote on – but what I got was not a consultant’s report, it was a fully branded document going into a lot of detail.”

The paper, titled Asset Management Strategy 2023-2028, includes a column of potential sales.

The list of children’s centres and Special Educational Needs (SEN) schools under the title “sell” include Roehampton Youth Club Holybourne, a youth club for young people with special educational needs or disabilities, in Danebury Avenue, Putney Heath and Doddington Activity Centre, which promotes opportunities for education, training and employment in Battersea. 

It also included York Gardens Children’s Centre, a free drop-off centre for children in Lavender Road, Clapham Junction, and Bradstow School, a residential special school in east Kent, registered as a children’s home and maintained by Wandsworth council for children with severe intellectual disabilities who are on the autistic spectrum.

Page 22 of the Asset Management document showing list of possible sales (Picture: Peter Graham)

The document also mentions that a “leisure needs review is under way”, alongside a new libraries strategy which would mean “not replacing facilities coming to end of life e.g. leisure centres and libraries”.

In a section on Battersea Library, the document states that the disposal of the 100-year-old listed building was worth “careful consideration”. A spokesman for Wandsworth council denied all claims regarding plans to sell the library.

Cllr Graham said: “We tabled a motion for a full council meeting to rule out the sale of the library and provide clarity on other sites.
“Labour claimed this just an internal document to give options, but that doesn’t fit what we know.

“The asset review took more than a year to put together, with dozens of workshops and more than £22,000 paid out from the council to external consultants.

“It’s appalling hypocrisy, given everything they promised before the election.”

A council spokesman said: “These claims are disingenuous and designed to scaremonger and mislead Wandsworth residents.

“The document referred to is an internal document and is not council policy. The council is not going to sell Battersea Library.

“The council has recently opened two brand-new libraries in Wandsworth Town and Northcote Road. There is no foundation at all to these misleading claims.”

Pictured top: Wandsworth council/Cllr Peter Graham (Picture: Google Street View/Cllr Peter Graham)

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