Published: 4 May, 2012
by PAVAN AMARA
AROUND 50 residents living close to Ashmount Primary School turned up to a meeting to save the school’s site for educational purposes.
The meeting, which was held at the Hornsey Lane estate community centre last week, saw parents from the school take dozens of petition forms to fill in and send back to Islington Council.
The Ashmount Site Action Group (ASAG), which organised the meeting and the petition, is appealing for the land to remain designated for educational purposes, rather than being sold off by Islington Council to make way for housing.
Francis Wilkinson of ASAG, said: “There aren’t enough primary school places for children – London needs 70,000 new places by 2015 somehow. The school has sufficient open space. It’s not abundant, but even the classrooms aren’t tiny. It would be easier to refurbish it and make it into a sports college or a special needs school. If the council are still intent on selling even some of the land, however, then that won’t be possible because then there wouldn’t be enough space.”
Dennis Doherty, a parent of children at nearby St Aloysius School in Hornsey Lane, said: “At St Aloysius there is no provision for a sixth form, there is no drama space or new science labs, and the school wanted to put in a bid to use the space. But councillors Richard Watts and Catherine West have continuously tried to put the headmaster off from applying for this, because they’re intent on it becoming housing.”
Labour Cllr Richard Watts, Islington’s executive member for children and families, said: “To the best of my knowledge there has been no formal expression of interest made by St Aloysius School, so these accusations are completely baseless. It did come up very informally in a two-minute conversation somewhere, but the idea that we warned the headteacher off – there’s absolutely no way.
“I believe lots of stories that are not based on fact are being floated around because ASAG is desperate to show Michael Gove that there is interest in the site being used for educational purposes, so Islington Council does not designate the land as surplus for educational need.
“There is a housing crisis in Islington. There are 13,000 families on the waiting list for housing, and many families living in appalling, very overcrowded conditions. We need to help them.
“There are also thousands of young couples who work very hard but they can’t get on the housing ladder. A site like this would be ideal for a small, mixed housing site that combines social and affordable housing.”
Mr Wilkinson added that he was aiming for 1,000 signatures.