So, it appears that the committee tasked with holding Southwark Council to account agrees with us on a pretty major point.
The Southwark Council Oversight and Scrutiny Committee in recent days said that “the most plausible option” for a new leisure centre is the total redevelopment of the Seven Islands site.
This is part of the revised recommendations it issued after grilling Councillor Mark Williams, the cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, last month on the council’s deeply controversial plan to cut down dozens of trees and build it on a wildlife area (outlined in red) instead.
You can find all the committee’s recommendations here.
Several other points leap out:
1. The committee gives support to our assertion that the council documents prepared so far on the matter have been skewed towards rubbishing any site that is not the wildlife area – it recommends that pros are listed as well as cons in a forthcoming consultation;
2. The council is being told to explain why it changed its mind about the car park diagonally opposite the library, given that the extensive research it did in 2013 had identified this as the best site for the leisure centre (research that came to light in a hidden document only released after a Freedom of Information Act request);
3. Frustratingly, Councillor Williams has been allowed to disregard the committee’s previous recommendation that he publicly commit to reviewing the preferred site if there were overwhelming public opposition – this has now been watered down to a feeble request that he merely “listen to the consultation”.
There is now going to be a public consultation on the council’s determination to build on the wildlife area. It has all the makings of a rubber-stamping exercise for a decision it has already taken – unless local people make themselves heard.
The Canada Water West Residents Action Group will be going door to door during the consultation period to fight this half-baked scheme and we’d be enormously grateful if more people got in touch to offer help. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.