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Seven Islands campaigners ‘make council sweat’

Green campaigners protesting against plans to build a leisure centre on a wildlife ‘haven’ in Rotherhithe turned out in force this week to “make the council sweat” at a Tooley Street showdown.

Activists and Lib Dem councillors raised concerns with Southwark Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee about the lack of attention being given to alternate sites by Mark Williams, the council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and New Homes.

The councillor has made it no secret that his preferred site is a green patch in the western section of the Canada Water Shopping Centre car park – much to the frustration of nearby residents.

After listening to the campaigners at the meeting last Monday, the committee proposed recommending that more attention should be given to alternate sites when consultation officially begins. Theis recommendation has not yet been confirmed.

Catherine Whitaker, spokesperson for the Canada Water West Residents’ Action Group, said: “Mark Williams claimed at the meeting that it would have been ‘disingenuous’ to take soundings on other possible approaches because it had such a strong preference for the wildlife area site. Such an assertion makes a mockery of the consultation process.”

Cllr Williams said: “We have a preferred location for the new leisure centre at Canada Water that we believe meets the requirements for our residents and also enables us to secure new council homes. Once we begin the full public consultation we will be able to share information about the other sites we’ve considered with local people, and explain why this site is our preferred option.”

Angry residents at the proposed site of the new centre.
Angry residents at the proposed site of the new centre.

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