Labour council bosses in Southwark have been ridiculed as "making North Korea look like a thriving democracy" after stitching up a public poll to name a new leisure centre.

Needing a name for the new centre at Elephant & Castle, set to open in Spring 2015, Southwark Council launched an online poll last month to ask the public what they thought. This week they announced the new name, saying: “Following a public vote, Southwark Council can announce that the brand new leisure centre at Elephant and Castle will be called The Castle.”

But the full results of the poll, uncovered by Liberal Democrat opposition councillors, has revealed that ‘The Castle’ was actually the THIRD choice of residents – and was in fact agreed as the new name by a panel of Labour councillors, including the leader of the council.

The name ‘Circuit’ was the real public choice, followed by ‘Chaplin Leisure Centre’ after Charlie Chaplin.

The explanation for choosing ‘The Castle’ over other names was because it would “ensure the Castle element of the name remained prominent alongside 1 The Elephant”- referring to the controversial tower block built at the site which was given the go-ahead without including any affordable homes.

Southwark Liberal Democrats have slammed the council’s “power-hoarding, top-down” approach, saying it is another example of prioritising developers over residents.

The full results of the poll also revealed a list of other names suggested by the public including a suggestion to call it ‘The White Elephant’.

Commenting, Cllr Graham Neale, Southwark Liberal Democrats’ Shadow Cabinet Member for Transport, Environment and Leisure, said:

“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. 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.”

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