Darren Johnson and Ken Livingstone on Ladywell

On 17th November 2004, Darren Johnson, Green Party Councillor at both Lewisham Council and the GLA had a question and answer session with Ken Livingstone on the issue of the Ladywell Leisure Centre.

We copied it here trying to facilitate its reading by putting on one page the main question as all the supplementary questions which appear to be at least as important as the main question.
Some answers from the Mayor appear to have been truncated for some unknown reason. On that we are unable to improve.


Mayor answers to London.

Leisure facilities in Lewisham

[Main question]

Question number 1504/2004
Meeting date 17/11/2004

Question by  Darren Johnson 

Given that your London Plan commits boroughs to “identifying sites for a range of sports facilities to meet local, sub-regional and wider needs” is it acceptable for the London Borough of Lewisham to demolish its main leisure centre in 2007, leaving the centre of Lewisham without any swimming facilities until at least 2010?

Source Image : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladywell_Leisure_Centre#/media/File:Ladywell_Leisure_Centre_Sep_09.jpg

Answer  by  Ken Livingstone (2nd Term)

I understand that although the London Borough of Lewisham proposes to re-develop the Ladywell sports centre for a much-needed school in 2007, it also intends to open a new leisure centre in the south of the borough in 2006 and another in the centre of the borough in 2010. In the medium term, this will provide local residents with enhanced leisure facilities, in line with the strategic objectives of the London Plan.

 While resolution of this issue is essentially a borough matter, I have instructed officers to explore with the London Borough of Lewisham how the GLA may be able to help meet the needs of central Lewisham residents for swimming facilities during the development process.

[Supplementary question]

Question by  Darren Johnson 

Well, residents will be left for at least three years without any leisure facilities in the centre of Lewisham, and it is not practical to suggest that everyone can just go off to the south of Lewisham to go swimming. There is huge concern and huge opposition about this in Lewisham, and it does seem to clearly contradict the policies in your London Plan about the need to ensure local sports facilities. Going for three years without this facility, I think, is unacceptable.

 You said before in response to the question about post offices that, where it clearly contradicted the policy in your London Plan, you would campaign against closure. Will you join the campaign against closure of the Lewisham Leisure Centre?

Answer  by  Ken Livingstone (2nd Term)

There is quite a significant difference here. The Post Office is closing facilities for their own profit-driven motives. What you have here is a real dilemma for the people responsible for managing Lewisham, which is they desperately need a new school, otherwise, kids are not going to get an education, and nobody in their right mind would want to close the Ladywell sports centre, given it has only recently been refurbished, but equally, they are now facing a massive demand for education.

 I have a lot of sympathy, therefore, with the dilemma that Lewisham find themselves in. This is the consequence of far too much flogging off of public land and public buildings over the years, which now presents them with a really unpalatable choice. I know it would be easy to condemn them, but frankly, I do not have an answer.

[Supplementary question]

Question by  Darren Johnson 

I totally agree with you that there is a desperate need for a new school, and that is what Opposition councillors in Lewisham have been saying for years, and that is why Opposition councillors and Opposition parties opposed Labour’s decision to close a school. It was only when they demolished a school that they realised, then, that there was shortage of places. I mean, what barmy thought-process they went through, I do not know.

 Opposition councillors did get together and put forward alternative sites for a new school, which Labour have clearly failed to listen to. I would hope that your office and your intervention in this could actually bring a bit of common sense into this whole debate, because Lewisham Council have got themselves in absolute knots and are making utter fools of themselves at the moment.

 Answer  by  Ken Livingstone (2nd Term)

Whilst we can all agree that, in retrospect, your position has been shown to be correct, that does not resolve the immediate dilemma Lewisham now faces. It needs a school, and because┬┐

[Supplementary question]

Question by  Darren Johnson 

We have put forward alternative sites, which they refuse to take up.

Answer  by  Ken Livingstone (2nd Term)

I suspect the cost of those alternative sites is such that they can only build the school by taking existing publicly-owned land. Now, my response when this issue came up to your question, was to ask the LDA whether we had any land in the area that would be suitable, but we have not been able to identify some.

 Therefore, I do not have an answer for this. The answer is you would not start from here. The trouble is Lewisham is now here.

[Supplementary question]

Question by  Darren Johnson 

Can you raise this issue with Lewisham, then, a) about your concerns over the lack of leisure facilities for three years, and b) about looking at sensible options for alternative sites for new schools?

Answer  by  Ken Livingstone (2nd Term)

If you let us have a look at the list of sites, or if you have any suggestions, I am happy to take them forward. I am not really keen to denounce borough councils who have problems which they may have contributed to in the past, but I suspect┬┐

[Supplementary question]

 Question by  Darren Johnson 

They totally created the problem. It is entirely of their own making.

Answer  by  Ken Livingstone (2nd Term)

The thing you can be fairly certain about, the people now trying to resolve it most likely are not the people that took the original decision. That is the sad bit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.