Campaign to save Wembley Sports ground: the latest

Mark mark at
Wed Aug 13 13:06:23 BST 2008

The Campaign to save Wembley Sports ground: the latest

Dated: Mon 4th Aug, 2008

An occupation of a Recreation Ground in the shadow of Wembley Stadium by
protestors fighting to retain local children's access to it’s use was
evicted last Monday morning by Brent Council, who have sought to secure the
area for a controversial new School Academy on the site.

There is video and photographic evidence of heavyhanded treatment by
baliffs, on protestors and members of the press. Protestors resisted
eviction from the 3 acre sports ground in North Wembley by climbing in
trees, d-locking onto fencing and sitting down and linking arms. Two
protestors climbed trees to resist eviction from the site, eventually
removed at 6pm later that day. A total of twelve other campaigners
were physically removed with heavy force.

Campaigners living in tents occupied the site on Sunday 27th July,
disabling construction work by Brent Council which was meant to have been
started the following day, as Brent Council push to begin the construction
of temporary accommodation for the first 60 pupils in the new Wembley
School Academy. The action provoked Brent Council into issuing all local
businesses on the site - including a children's nursery - with an
immediate eviction order to leave by Wednesday 30th July 2008. Sunflower
Children's Nursery, a church group, a motorcycle training centre and a
carwash are being evicted with haste despite recent offers by council
officials to extend their lease until the end of August.

Wembley Sports Ground, which has been used by the local community for over
100 years, has been used by over 150 young people each week. Local
kids pay just £1 an hour to use the football training ground. Campaigners
cite the fact that in 2006, Splash Football Training Academy also in Brent
were charged £3,000 every 10 weeks by former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s
flagship Capital City Academy in Stonebridge, South Brent – an
unaffordable arrangement which they subsequently discontinued.

On 3rd June, Brent Council approved planning permission for an initial
'pre-academy' for 60 primary-school pupils to be housed in portacabins on
one of the sports fields. This Pre-Academy school is a forerunner for the
educational charity Ark's proposed 1,600 pupil Wembley Park Academy
School. Ark are an American and British educational charity sponsored and
run by a group of millionaire merchant bankers and currency speculators,
led by french/swiss and multimillionaire Arpad Busson.

Brent Council have already promised several parents that their children
have places in the unbuilt school, which is due to open at the beginning
of the school year in September. With less than five weeks to go, it is
now a race against the clock to make sure these initial classrooms will be
built in time. Sources say that when the School Academy gets planning
permission later this year, it will be built around the students during
the school year.

Brent Council’s single-minded obstinacy in how they have handled the
transfer of Wembley Sports Ground to it’s new owners - the owners of the
proposed School Academy – ARK – has already been similarly reflected in
their inflexible approach to insisting on the priority of this new school
in the north of the borough as opposed to South Brent. In 2007, an average
of nearly 20% of South Brent residents were attending non-denominational
schools in North Brent. Infact, the current imbalance in mixed
non-denominational educational provision between North and South of Brent
appears to be indirectly discriminating against Black Afro-Caribbean

Campaigners question when Brent Council will actually consider the needs
of the whole of the borough of Brent, instead of their preoccupation with
facilitating the self-aggrandisement of a group of large international
hedge fund speculators who stand to secure their investment in part of
Brent’s state school service.

For more Information, contact: Jean 0784 3282450, Hank 0776 2737 306,

Further info:

For the next academic year, 60 pupils will either be housed in portacabins
on one of the sports fields or in the sports hall, a leaking dilapidated
building that needs some serious work. Both options, to be fully funded by
the local taxpayer and not by Ark, the private investor in the Wembley
Academy school, have been criticised by local MP Barry Gardener. Even if
the building is refurbished, it will then have to be subsequently knocked
down for the new school academy proposed for the site.

Meanwhile, evidence has emerged that neighbouring primary schools have not
filled their places for reception classes in September whilst the council
has actively encouraged parents to change their school selection
preferences in favour of the new academy school. Just two schools
shortfall (Wembley Primary and Preston Park - both very near the proposed
school) nearly make up the 60 places to be offered in the temporary
academy buildings proposed to open in September 08.

The campaign by locals against the proposed School Academy and save
Wembley Sports Ground has been going for the past two years. The site was
occupied last summer for 6 months by a group of teachers opposed to the
building of the proposed school academy on the site. On the 30th of June
this year it was reoccupied by yht same group of teachers; an eviction
notice was promptly served, leading to Brent NUT Secretary Hank Roberts
having to be removed from the roof of the sports hall on the early morning
of Friday 18th having courageously taken a last stand against Brent
Council and the Ark Academy.

Last year, Brent Council signed a year's extension for all leaseholders on
the site. However, Brent Council issued eviction notices, as was their
right in accordance with the terms of the agreement of their
"Tenancy-at-Will" leasehold agreement, to all businesses on the site to
leave by 31st July. This high handed threat was issued after the council
had promised in writing to help with ensuring all businesses would be
relocated, including the Sunflower nursery children. No assistance was
subsequently offered.

Though Brent Council has given a verbal guarantee that access to play on
the football pitches will remain for the next two years, the developers -
ARK - the school charity who plan to build the new Wembley Academy school
on the site - have so far not made any commitment to retain the local
youth community's affordable access to this local recreation facility.
(Brent Council currently own the land; they are in the process of
transferring it to ARK).

Peter Moring - a local resident who has been coaching and supervising
children and youth football training sessions at Wembley Sports Ground for
the last 10 years - is responsible for these pitches and is considered an
important and valued member of the community by locals and all who come to
this site to use the facilities. He is a renowned and universally
respected football coach across London. He has also overseen the positive
results of social activities which have helped with troubled local
children who without these facilities would otherwise have little option
to socialise in a culturally diverse, positive environment which is based
on basic physical activity – increasingly ever-more important in a society
of growing obesity and seen as a prerequisite for both mental and physical

The football pitches on this recreation ground - in the shadow of Wembley
Stadium - are maintained to a very high standard - a working example of
pre-eminence in groundkeeping standards. The Problem is that these
football pitches, where during the football season up to 10 youth league
football matches are played each week, will be at risk from overuse if the
new Academy School has predominant use of these pitches while the current
use by locals is maintained. Infact, ARK’s current plans include
converting the smaller football pitch to Astro Turf. It is a distinct
prospect for the main football pitch on the site once a 1,600 pupil School
is up and running on the site. However Astro Turf is unsuitable for youth
league games and so it's use will eliminate competitive youth football
games being played on the site, as well as reducing the local community's
access to suitable space.

The Wembley Ark Educational Charity is an American and British educational
charity sponsored and run by a group of millionaire merchant bankers and
currency speculators, led by french/swiss and multimillionaire Arpad
Busson. Arpad "Arki" Busson is senior partner of EIM fund management
company (with assets reported as ranging from £5 billion to £10 billion).
The Ark Academy is estimated to cost around £30 million of public money
yet would be privately run. Unlike PFI in the NHS, the taxpayer puts up
virtually all of the initial capital cost. The UK school academy scheme
itself is largely financed the UK taxpayer, which the private investors
are then able to make a profit from. Sponsors receive the entire school
budget directly from the Government.

Ark is set to run 12 Academy schools throughout the UK, six of which will
be opened by September 2008. One reason the Wembley Academy opening date
was moved forward from September 2009 to 2008 was because local opposition
against the Academy has been so massive in Brent, Ark thought that
advancing the school start date would crush the resistance.

See also:

Tent City Occupation - Ark Invasion on Fri 1st August 2008:

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