- Boris Johnson cancels free entry to London Zoo and London Wetland Centre for schools
- 75,000 London primary and secondary school pupils could now miss out every year
- Assembly member urges re-think
London Mayor Boris Johnson is being urged to re-think his decision to scrap a scheme which allows school pupils to visit London Zoo and the Wetland Centre for free.
The scheme, which has been funded by the Mayor since 2001, will come to an end in March 2011. Boris Johnson personally signed a mayoral decision form in November to bring it to an end.
In 2007 98,330 school children visited London Zoo – more than three quarters did so for free through the funding programme. The cash from the Mayor currently gives pupils from every one of the 2,583 state schools in London the opportunity to take part in a free educational visit to London Zoo or the Wetland Centre in Barnes each academic year.
Labour London Assembly member, Joanne McCartney, said: “The income of a child’s parents or the type of school they go to shouldn’t determine whether they can access fantastic educational facilities like these. The Mayor should know that thousands of children in London don’t get any other opportunity to see or learn about wildlife. He should show he’s a Mayor for all Londoners and think again.”
The Mayor says it was a “difficult decision” to scrap the scheme but that “public budgets are under extreme pressure”. He told the London Assembly at a City Hall meeting on 15 December that “London’s wealth creators” in the private sector should fund schemes like this. The Mayor set out the rationale for his decision in mayoral decision form MD714. Click here to read the full decision.
A spokeswoman for the Zoological Society of London told the Evening Standard, “We are immensely grateful to the GLA for their support during [the last nine years], and we are disappointed that this funding could not continue.”
Boris Johnson was criticised last year when he advocated introducing voluntary charging for entry to London’s museums.
The free entry scheme was launched by the Mayor of London in July 2001. Funding until in 2011 was confirmed in February 2008.
Information about the schools and outreach work of London Zoo can be found on their website
Joanne McCartney is Labour Assembly for Enfield & Haringey and the London Assembly Labour group’s spokesperson for children and young people.