Israel has prolonged its land operation in Gaza and instructed the removal of a significant hospital in Gaza City, which is currently housing 14,000 individuals. Stay updated on the newest updates on our liveblog.
Today, we will be discussing the ongoing efforts of the organizers of the Wimbledon tennis championships to gain control of the adjacent Capability Brown-designed park. Their goal is to expand the tournament by adding 39 additional courts.
The AELTC’s goal of expanding the championship location to include Church Road has progressed following the approval of their plans for the Wimbledon Park development at a lengthy and occasionally heated council planning meeting on Thursday evening.
Although Merton council has given their approval, the AELTC must also gain support from Wandsworth council, which oversees a portion of the park, and the mayor of London. If it is successful, local activists who are fighting to protect the parkland in accordance with a 30-year-old legal agreement, have stated that they will continue their efforts by pursuing a judicial review.
During this conflict, Ant McPartlin, Declan Donnelly, Piers Morgan, and former cabinet secretary Lord Gus O’Donnell each received a one-time payment of £85,000. I will provide further explanation after discussing the main points.
Five big stories
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Reworded: From a deeper perspective, it seems that this is not about tennis or the individuals involved, but rather about generating profits.
Martin Sumpton, a member of the community and a supporter of Wimbledon Park, has dedicated a significant portion of his retirement to opposing the AELTC’s proposals. “I have a deep fondness for the park and believe it should be preserved for all to enjoy,” he expresses.
However, Martin does have his boundaries. He departed from the planning meeting at Merton Civic Centre on Thursday evening prior to the vote, as he would have missed the final bus home if he stayed any longer due to the meeting’s prolonged duration. The meeting started at 7:15pm on Thursday and continued until nearly midnight, with interruptions from demonstrators labeling the council chamber a “climate crime scene”.
At the conclusion, members of the council cast their votes, with six in support and four against the proposal to construct a covered show court with a capacity of 8,000 seats and 38 additional grass courts on the historic parkland, originally designed by renowned landscaper Capability Brown in the 1700s.
The majority voted in favor of the yes option, despite a petition with 13,338 signatures urging to “Save Wimbledon Park” and over 2,000 letters of objection from residents in the area. Both Stephen Hammond, the Conservative MP for Wimbledon, and Fleur Anderson, the Labour MP for Putney, expressed their opposition in a rare joint statement.
“We are in agreement about the significance of safeguarding our nearby natural areas, addressing the urgent issue of climate change, and thoroughly evaluating all proposed projects that may affect the constituents we serve,” they stated.
The AELTC’s construction plans will require the removal of approximately 300 trees, which has been criticized by some community members as “corporate ecocide”. The club claims that the majority of the trees are of low quality and plans to replace them with 1,500 new trees.
became effective in 1988
The legal agreement, which has been in place for 30 years, was put into effect in 1988.
In 1993, the ALETC purchased the freehold of Wimbledon Park from Merton council for £5.2m. They had plans to expand into the park, but were required to sign a covenant stating that the land could only be used for leisure, recreation, or as an open space.
The club leased the property to the Wimbledon Park golf club until 2018. During this time, its chairman expressed concerns that the SW19 championships would lag behind other major tournaments in New York, Paris, and Melbourne if it did not expand and enhance its amenities for both players and spectators. He suggested that the most logical option for expansion would be onto the golf club’s grounds.
However, the lease agreement for the golf club’s use of the land was in effect until 2041, preventing AELTC from reclaiming the land for another 23 years. To circumvent this issue, the tennis club devised a clever strategy: they offered the golf club members £65 million to terminate their club membership early.
The £85,000 windfall to give up golf
The 758 members of the 120-year-old club were divided in their views on the issue, which would result in each member receiving £85,000. Catherine Devons, one of the members, compared it to Brexit, stating that members were either in favor or against it. The offer has caused rifts among members and even put an end to long-standing golf partnerships.
Ultimately, 82% of the club’s members voted to approve the sale. The club, located in the upscale area of Wimbledon in London, had a prestigious membership roster including celebrities such as Piers Morgan, Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, and Lord Gus O’Donnell, who was a former cabinet secretary. O’Donnell did not vote due to his position on the All England board with Tim Henman, while the other members did not respond to inquiries for their opinions.
Martin was among the 12% who opposed and he continues to deeply long for his golf club. He expresses, “It was originally intended to be open to the public, but ever since the All England purchased it, fences have been erected and security guards now monitor the area.” He adds, “And if their plans to develop it go through, this valuable public space will be permanently lost in favor of tennis. I don’t believe it’s truly about tennis or the community, it’s all about profits.”
The author contends that despite the approval of AELTC’s plans by Merton council, they should not be permitted to proceed due to the covenant. However, the Labour councillors, who have majority control of Merton council, passed a motion last year stating that the covenant should be honored rather than enforced, as suggested by the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives.
Sally Bolton, the CEO of AELTC, expressed her joy at the approval of the plans. She believes that these proposals will not only ensure the longevity of the championships for future generations, but also improve community resources with the addition of a new 23 acre park. This land has been inaccessible to the public for over 100 years.
It’s your turn now, Wandsworth.
The top triangle of Wimbledon Park is located outside of Merton. It falls within the boundaries of Wandsworth, and its planning committee will need to give approval for the project at a meeting scheduled for November.
Should it receive approval, the verdict will subsequently be handed over to Sadiq Khan, who as the mayor of London holds authority over development on metropolitan open land, including the park in question. Michael Gove, the minister for promoting equal opportunities and improving living conditions, may also intercede.
Martin and the rest of the activists have begun composing letters urging them to intervene. However, if that approach proves unsuccessful, they intend to initiate a legal review contesting the lawfulness of the decisions, specifically those regarding the covenant.
Martin states that there are many highly skilled lawyers in this community who have greatly aided them thus far. He believes they will be willing to continue supporting their cause.
What other material have we been perusing?
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Professional ice hockey player Adam Johnson passed away on Saturday night after a “freak accident” occurred during a Challenge Cup game between the Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers. Tributes have been pouring in for Johnson.
England suffered another defeat in their disappointing World Cup run, losing by 100 runs to India. Despite a strong performance in the field for 50 overs, with aggressive bowling and energetic fielding, they ultimately fell short. India, on the other hand, remains undefeated and is likely to secure a spot in the semi-finals. This marks England’s fourth consecutive loss and fifth overall in the tournament.
In the Premier League, Manchester City delivered another lesson to their local rivals Manchester United with a 3-0 victory to cap off the weekend. City rose to third place, while Tottenham and Arsenal, rivals from North London, also secured wins against Crystal Palace and struggling Sheffield United. Liverpool, in fourth place, dedicated their 3-0 win against Nottingham Forest to their missing forward Luis Diaz, who was unable to play due to reports of his parents being kidnapped in Colombia.
The front pages
The Guardian’s main story focuses on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, with the headline “UN reports deteriorating civil order in Gaza”. The Times also covers this story, titled “UN warns of dire situation in Gaza as desperation grows”. The Financial Times reports on the Israeli military’s gradual expansion of their ground assault against Hamas in Gaza. Meanwhile, the Telegraph highlights the blockade imposed by Hamas on the exit of foreign citizens. The Mail features a report from two of its journalists near the Gaza border, describing the intense fighting as being like spectators in a brutal colosseum.
The Mirror reports on the passing of actor Matthew Perry, featuring the headline “Our best friend”. The Sun’s front page also covers Perry’s death with the headline “Friend to the end”.
Today in Focus
What we’ve learned so far from the Covid inquiry
Earlier this year, the public investigation into the UK’s handling of the Covid-19 outbreak began. Testimonies have been heard from political figures such as David Cameron and George Osborne, as well as scientists who advised the government and former health secretary Matt Hancock. This week, former Downing Street advisors Lee Cain and Dominic Cummings will also be summoned to provide their accounts of events.
“The Guardian’s deputy political editor, Peter Walker, explains to Michael Safi that while witnesses have had some explosive moments, much of the shocking evidence has come from the multitude of material, including WhatsApp conversations, that they have submitted.”
Today’s featured cartoon by Edith Pritchett is the highlight of the day.
The daily cartoon, created by Edith Pritchett, is the standout feature of the day.
Register for Inside Saturday to access additional cartoons by Edith Pritchett, premium content from our Saturday magazine, and an exclusive glimpse into our behind-the-scenes process.
There is a small piece of positive news to remind you that the world is not completely negative.
The Upside kicks off the week by revisiting the tale of sea otter 841, who gained widespread attention over the summer for harassing surfers and swimmers. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Monterey Bay Aquarium attempted to capture 841 in July, but were unsuccessful. Recently, 841 gave birth to a pup, named 841+1, and photos of the pair have been circulating online. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has cautioned admirers to refrain from approaching the otters, as it could harm their chances of survival.
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Bored at work?
Lastly, the Guardian’s puzzles are available to provide entertainment throughout the day – with even more options on the Guardian’s Puzzles app for iOS and Android. See you tomorrow.