ON 24 June a large number of parents and other supporters turned out to support the occupation of Lewisham Bridge School, south London, that has now been going on for a number of months.
The occupiers were to be confronted and removed by bailiffs. The police attended with great numbers and had four police vans and even a helicopter circling the school site! The parents, some of whom were on the roof, and community supporters probably totalling about 100 throughout the morning, stood their ground.
After a stand-off the police and bailiffs must have realised that this was not going to be won easily and decided at about 11.30am to leave.
The protesters occupied the school over the Labour-led council's plans to demolish the existing primary school on the site currently, and re-build it as a through school for 3- to 16-year olds.
There have been many concerns expressed about this by parents, including the loss of the school as 'community school', and the site being potentially contaminated as well as an inadequate water supply!
The Commission for Architecture and the Build Environment and English Heritage have even opposed the build. Yet, arrogantly, Lewisham council, with its directly elected Labour Mayor has, as per usual, proceeded to ignore the parents' wishes.
Lewisham Socialist Party councillor Chris Flood cancelled a trip to Birmingham in order to go down and give support to the parents and protesters and spoke to the media to set the record straight that not all councillors support the council's position.
Chris has raised the issue of the cost of relocating the children for two years in a temporary old school whilst the council attempts to fix the poorly thought through plans of the new school.
Add to this the cost of the policing and it can be seen why the community is right to question all the decision-making to date on the new school.
The battle is not over yet. The possibility is still there of the bailiffs returning and a harder policing line being used by the authorities.
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