You might remember last year it was sadly reported in the local media, that a motorcyclist had died following a crash along Gunthorpe Road on Friday, July 28.
This is not the first fatality on this particular stretch of road.
Did you know it’s been 6 years since the Norwood School fence issue was finally settled? Initially, things were running smoothly, but that now seems to have changed?
Since the initial voluntary key holders were no longer able to continue locking and unlocking the gates at the weekends, the school has done nothing to ensure that the gates, as per the agreement and signage that hangs on the fence, are open to members of public, outside of school hours.
I’ve since been contacted by local residents, and in response I stood up and raised the issue at a meeting of Full Council.
I asked Cllr John Holdich, Tory leader of Peterborough City Council, if he could provide me, and residents, with a response as to what they can do to make sure that the school does unlock the gates outside of school hours, to benefit local children, enabling them to play safely, make the land accessible to wheelchair users, and encourage the use of this green open space for a range of leisure activities?
Map of Location: https://goo.gl/maps/Fr8hhVJ3epu
Councillor Holdich responded:
“Initially and for the first few years of the use of the field, the school caretaker was opening the school field at around 4.15 after school clubs finished, and then the 21 members of the community were locking the gates at dusk to prevent access during dark and prevent unwanted use. This was the agreement for community use. There have been several different community key holders over this period.
“Unfortunately the community failed in locking the gates in the evening and so the gates remained open all night. As a matter of safeguarding and preventing night time use the school decided to leave the gates locked. This has appeared to have been no problem whatsoever as far as the school is aware no complaints to the school made in the last two of years and therefore the gates have remained locked.”
Do you agree with Tory Cllr Holdich that the “community failed” on this?
Do you think its strange that land owned by local people and tax payers, is inaccessible despite an agreement to make it so, that wheelchair users specifically are affected, and why a school that employs a caretaker to open up and lock the other gates at the front of the school, can’t afford the time to do the same for the ones on the field?
At a meeting of the Council’s Children and Education Scrutiny Committee, on which I sit on as the Lib Dem rep, we were told that, the new secondary schools at Hampton Gardens and Paston Reserve “…would provide a buffer to the additional capacity required in the City.”
The report also stated that, there “.. is currently a shortage of school places in Peterborough.”
You may remember that the Tories at the Town Hall chose to close schools like John Mansfield and Bretton Woods in 2002, despite warnings from councillors at the time!
Put simply, I think this is Council phraseology to say, when it comes to school places in the city, we are up a certain creek without the required paddle!
The Tories are looking for any excuse to try and justify their terrible decision to close secondary schools in Peterborough over a decade ago.
It seems that no planning was done, no one envisaged an increase in the population, or the need to have sufficient school places, despite some at the Council crowing about “growing the right way!”
The biggest worry of course is the impact this has had on several generations and how it will affect pupils in Peterborough over the coming years.
Interestingly at the same meeting, the Tory leader of the Council tried to say that the decision to close secondary schools such as John Mansfield and Bretton Woods taken in 2002, was due to a Government directive and enabled the local authority to bid for money to improve existing school buildings – That’s a new excuse for me regarding the derisory decision!
Given the problems with parking at these two schools already, I suspect nearby residents will be concerned about any possible increase in pupil numbers?
Following concerns raised by local residents, about the play field to the rear of Norwood School and that it had been consistently locked, the City Council have now confirmed that they will be unlocked for the remainder of the Summer holidays, allowing members of the community to access it, instead of jumping over the fence.
Commenting, local LIB DEM ward councillor, Darren Fower said:
“I received several queries as to why the gates had been consistently locked, despite the good weather and that the holidays are on, a time when young people are looking for somewhere to go and kick a football about etc
“It seems, having looked into this, that there has been something of a communication breakdown, but this has now been resolved. The school have agreed they will leave the gates open for the remainder of the holidays and the Council have said they’ll ask for a report on how things have gone from the school after that.
“Obviously it’s impossible to guarantee that they’ll be no problems, but the field is there for the community outside of school hours and therefore they should at least be able to access it and make use of the clean, green area for a bit of fun!”
Cllr Darren Fower tells us that he’s asked that the City Council copy him in on the subsequent report and hopes that a solution during school term can also be secured, adding that “… the School is part of the community and in reflection the community must be there for the school.”
What do you think? Please leave comments below.