WALTHAM FOREST: Secret council sell-off sites revealed (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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WALTHAM FOREST: Secret council sell-off sites revealed
SCHOOLS, leisure centres and care homes may be sold off by the council to help it cut costs, leaked documents have revealed.
Confidential papers obtained by the Guardian from concerned sources at Waltham Forest Town Hall show the authority is in the process of selling more than a dozen of its office buildings and patches of land in the borough to raise money.
Staff have also drawn up a second list which identifies sites which could potentially be “disposed” of in the next five years subject to reviews of services.
It includes all the borough's public swimming pools - Leyton Leisure Lagoon, Walthamstow Pool and Track, Kelmscott Leisure Centre, Cathall Leisure Centre and Larkswood Leisure Centre – along with dozens of other buildings and car parks.
The proposals were discussed in secret at a cabinet meeting last month after the public and press were ordered to leave the room because the items were exempt and “not in the public interest”.
But this newspaper has now obtained the documents that were discussed, which reveal the true extent of the options the council is considering.
It comes ahead of council predictions that it must cut at least £30million from its budgets in the next two financial years.
The authority has already said it needs to make savings of £7.2million this year following a reduction in central Government funding and a budget overspend of nearly £5million.
Among the sites the council has definitely agreed to dispose of is land in Coppermill Lane, Walthamstow, Stanley Road, Chingford, and Connaught Road, Walthamstow.
Also on the list is Chestnut House in Walthamstow and Pastures Youth Centre in Davies Lane, Leytonstone, although it could be used for helping to ease the borough's school places shortage.
The list also reveals that the council plans to sell Edinburgh Primary School in Edinburgh Road, Walthamstow - subject to a review of school place shortages.
Sites in Sutherland Road in Walthamstow could also go, subject to a review of plans for the redevelopment of the Blackhorse Road area.
Meanwhile the second list contains sites that “may be affected by service reviews or relocation of services” and ponders sell-offs that councillors might have to face in future years.
The list includes the former Warwick School For Boys site in Walthamstow, which the papers state could still be used for an expansion of secondary school places, and Aveling Park School in Walthamstow, which could be used as a new primary school.
Other possible disposals, subject to a review of services, include care homes such as Francis House, George Mason Lodge, Mapleton Road, Alliston House, Flaxen House and the units in Markhouse Road, Trumpington Road and May Road.
Car parks in Palmerston Road, Walthamstow, St James Street, Walthamstow, Brandon Road, Walthamstow, Lindford Road, Walthamstow, Garfield Road, Chingford, Richmond Road, Chingford, and Stanley Road, Chingford, which could be used for a new primary school, have also been identified as possible disposals.
Leisure users will not be surprised by the revelation that Pool and Track is being considered as a possible site to sell.
A council report in September 2009 let slip that it could be sold off to fund the redevelopment of the Arcade site in Walthamstow, although council leader Chris Robbins pledged it would not be shut down until a new, comparative facility was opened in its place.
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