Welford youngsters still left with nowhere safe to play, say parents - The Stratford Observer

Welford youngsters still left with nowhere safe to play, say parents

YOUNGSTERS still have nowhere safe to play in Welford, say parents, as the playing fields which were locked without warning over the school holidays remain closed.

Parents were left bamboozled over why the governors of Welford Primary School decided to lock the gate at 5pm on Friday May 24 just as the school half-term holiday began.

A petition for the reopening of the playing field on Headland Road has attracted hundreds of signatures and counting.

However, the governors of the school have confirmed that the gates will remain locked until further notice.

The online petition “Reopen Welford-on-Avon Park After School Hours” was launched by resident Anthony Ryan.

He told the Observer the gate was shut and padlocked by the governors with no proper explanation or warning. There was only a notice on the gate to say it was being closed out of school hours due to the school’s obligations to “safeguard children at all times”.

He said villagers had been given no prior notice of the plans and children and families had been left with nowhere safe in the village to play as a result.

He added youngsters had been spotted playing football on the Maypole Green next to the busy High Street instead.

Fellow frustrated parents wrote to the school governing body for an explanation but had to wait until after the half-term holiday for a response.

An extract from the parents’ letter reads: “The children of Welford deserve better and are not safer due to your actions. Without warning, a well-established safe space has been removed by you as governors of Welford Primary School. This unilateral decision by the governing body is both overreaching and unhelpful in maintaining a relationship with the community you serve.”

The school governors said the responsibility for providing amenity areas in the village fell to the parish council, and there were provisions in the village with play areas for children at Synder Meadow and Cress Hill, but refused to comment any further.

A spokesperson for Welford Parish Council said they had received reports of upset and concerned parents from the village and beyond, including reports from parents being scared to voice their feelings.

They continued that they considered it to be overreaching of the governing body to direct children to play at Cress Hill adjacent to the river and at Synder Meadow, isolated from the centre of the village.

The spokesperson added that while the parish council does not have a statutory duty to provide amenity space, they believe it is fundamental to children’s safety, everyone’s wellbeing, and for social cohesion within the community that a space is maintained and will continue to request a meeting with the school governing body.

Welford Primary School has been approached for comment.

The petition, which has been signed by over 600 people so far, can be found at www.change.org/p/reopen-welford-on-avon-park-after-school-hours?

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