Lewisham Council and Millwall scheme unravels yet more

Lewisham Mayor resigns from charity, and millions of pounds of funding come into question

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Millwall secured a two-nil win against Port Vale this evening.

But the real drama, as has so often been the case this season, happened off the pitch.

First, the Evening Standard, which until now has been notably backward at coming forward in this big London story, suggested that £20m of funding from the Greater London Authority may have been secured – or at least helped – as a result of a £2m pledge from Sport England that didn’t really exist.

And then the Lewisham Mayor Steve Bullock resigned from his post as trustee on Surrey Canal Sports Foundation – again, most likely prompted by the same revelation. He was reported as saying in the South London Press:

“Given the amount of recent media reporting, and inaccurate comments I understand to be circulating on social media, it has become clear to me that my continued involvement with SCSF is not helping either the borough or the Foundation.

“It is also creating unnecessary confusion at a time when I need to concentrate my efforts on the many challenges facing the borough today not least the continuing impact of government austerity programmes. I have therefore decided that I should tender my resignation as a trustee with immediate effect.”

The charitable foundation was set up by Renewal, the property developers behind a huge regeneration scheme, to run a major new sports complex, Energize. It would have been one of the multiple strands in this huge development proposal for a neglected part of London.

The writing, let’s face it, was on the wall. As soon as the Guardian revealed the funding was not quite as assured as it seemed (at least on the developer’s website), the entire premise of the Foundation looked shaky.

Once again, the chair of Lewisham Council’s overview and scrutiny committee, Alan Hall, has been instrumental in asking the awkward questions no one else in the council would.

Incidentally, the foundation has not tweeted since September and its website is now looking a little neglected.

canal-sports
A screengrab from the Surrey Canal Sports Foundation as of February 14, 2017

More twists and turns in this sorry saga are inevitable. There’s an awful lot more noise to come.

Author: lewishamlately

I'm Jolyon and I started Lewisham Lately after fretting about the lack of news coverage for the borough. An avid runner, I also used to be a guide book writer, then worked on the travel desk at the Daily Telegraph for the best part of a decade. I have lived in south-east London more than anywhere else in my adult life, including Lewisham since 2009.

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