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Elephant leisure centre poll: council accused of ‘North Korean’ tactics

Opposition politicians in Southwark have criticised the choice of 'The Castle' as the name for the new leisure centre under construction at Elephant & Castle.

Elephant leisure centre poll: council accused of ‘North Korean’ tactics

Last week Southwark's Labour administration announced that the new leisure centre and swimming pool will be known as 'The Castle' when it opens next year.

Opposition Lib Dem councillors claim that the authority has ignored the results of an online poll of local residents carried out during December and January.

The Lib Dems have obtained the full results of the public vote which show that 'The Castle' came third with with 49 votes.

The top-placed option was 'Circuit' was with 68 votes, followed by 'Chaplin Leisure Centre' with 51. 'Faraday' received 36 votes whilst 'Chaucer' was backed by 12 people. The lowest-placed of the six shortlisted names was 'Volts' with 8 votes.

The opposition councillors say they were told by a senior council officer that the Castle name was chosen for the leisure centre to complement the 'One The Elephant' branding of the adjacent Lend Lease tower of luxury housing.

"The council's Labour bosses ran a poll to find a name for the new leisure centre, then completely ignored it and made it up themselves," said Cllr Graham Neale, Southwark Liberal Democrats' shadow cabinet member for transport, environment and leisure.

"Sometimes the decision-making at Southwark Council makes North Korea look like a thriving democracy!

"This is typical of the Labour administration. Labour are more worried about helping developers market their properties than listening to the views of local residents."

Cllr Fiona Colley, cabinet member for regeneration and corporate strategy, defended the process used to decide the new name: "The top polling name was discounted because it was clear from the IP data that almost all its votes had been cast by one person voting multiple times.

"The second and third names got almost the same number of votes, 49 and 51, and after also looking at the write in suggestions we felt a name based on the Elephant & Castle location had the most support.

"With many more new buildings and streets on their way, I have no doubt we will soon be naming something after Charlie Chaplin too."

"I'd like to thank all the people who took the time to help us make this decision and look forward to welcoming them to The Castle when it opens next year."

Cllr Neale's reference to the North Korean regime has angered local Labour Party figures.

"To call Cllr Neale's comments hyperbole would be to understate the idiocy of his comparison," said Cllr Colley.

"I do wonder what the Korean community of Southwark will make of the Lib Dems' flippant sentiments."

The full list of suggested names received by the council: Trunk and Moat, Paloma, Frogland, Castle Caine, Faraday Waves, Three Falcons, James Trosh, The Shadow, Trunks, The Elephant Leisure Centre, Elephant Trunks, No Paupers allowed, St Mary's, Manor Place, Loop, Oasis, Elephant and Castle Leisure Centre, Prosaic, Middleton, Freedom Fitness, Moonpig, Infanta, London park, The Black hole, Enterprise, Mandela memorial, Fresher, The eLCy, Thames Leisure Centre, Mandela Leisure Centre, The Southwark Elephant Hub, Otium, Aqua Marine, The Fit one, SPLASH, REACT, The EC, Watering hole, Leisure hub, Octavia, Elecast sports centre, Sprint, Mary and Castle, High Voltage, Heygate, Lloyd Honeyghan centre, Hewing ton, The White Elephant.

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