Heated exchanges punctuate council meeting
Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia came under fire from angry residents at the town hall last night following this month's decision to bulldoze York Gardens adventure playground.
Wednesday night marked the council's monthly meeting where issues including Heathrow expansion, library services and police numbers were also discussed by councillors.
The meeting was preceded by a mass protest, from a mixture of children, parents and concerned residents, outside the town hall.
The protesters, backed by trade union GMB, were rallying against a series of cuts to youth services, including the removal of supervising staff from two other playgrounds in Battersea Park and Kimber Road.
The council has stated that it intends to spend £500,000 next Spring replacing the existing facilities at the three adventure playgrounds with "brand new play equipment for young people to enjoy".
Campaigners had hoped the playgrounds' equipment would be saved after Kids Company, who provide support to vulnerable inner-city children, said they would be willing to discuss taking over the management of the site.
Mr Govindia told councillors last night that the "door had not been completely shut" on Kids Company despite sending bulldozers in to flatten the much-loved York Gardens adventure playground on October 2.
He was also unable to guarantee, when asked by Coun Wendy Speck, that no further work would start at the two other sites.
He said: "As there is no further consideration to be given to Kids Company's proposal, no assurance is necessary.
"Work will commence at the other sites as planned, in late December for Kimber Road and in January for Battersea Park."
In response, one emotionally-charged heckler shouted: "The community are furious with you. Why should the children in this borough suffer?"
But Coun Adrian Knowles, mayor of Wandsworth and chairman of the meeting, told the woman: "This is a meeting for elected councillors, they have earned the right to speak, until you are elected you have not."