School defends fence scheme after criticism

July 28 2022
School defends fence scheme after criticism

A COALPIT Heath school has defended the way it went about erecting a fence around part of its playing field.

Pupils at the Manor C of E Primary School (above) were able to use the fenced area, which the school says allows them to use the playing field more safely, before the start of the summer holidays.

The school said the fence was necessary after hazards including dog mess and an open craft knife were found in areas used by children.

Some people living nearby have criticised the process of erecting the 6ft fence as "sneaky and underhand", after work started two days before a public meeting to discuss the plan.

But the school says it did hold an earlier meeting with some residents, at which there was “overwhelming support”.  

And it says the majority of the field alongside Badminton Road is still open for public use.

South Gloucestershire Council, which owns the land, told the Voice that the school was entitled to fence the area, and did not need planning permission or a public consultation.

Westerleigh Parish Council hosted a public meeting on June 29, which was attended by 15 members of the public, local councillors and senior South Gloucestershire Council schools officer Ian Purnell.

One resident told the Voice: “The meeting was a complete waste of time, as there was not a representative from the school staff or governors there.” 

Another resident, Karen Bidwell, said she agreed with the idea in principle, but felt putting the fence up before the meeting “feels sneaky and underhand.” 

She said: “It has been rude and disrespectful not to consider the feelings of the community. I’m sure they would have had the full support had people been told well in advance.”

In a statement to the Voice, the school said discussions about the need for a safe and secure area for children began many years ago.

The statement said: "We have been careful to ensure the local community can continue to use the majority of the field freely as part of the plans.

"We have been pleased that the vast majority of the feedback we have received has been very positive.

"We hope people understand that the fence is vital to ensure that our children have a safe and secure area, away from the rest of the school field which is still open for public access."