School governor quits over school's safety fence access row

The Burnley High School

The Burnley High School

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A row has broken out between councillors and a Burnley secondary school over access to a community field.

The Burnley High School, currently being built on the site of the former Habergham High school in Byron Street, recently installed safety fences, a move which has angered ward councillors, even leading to the resignation of one from his position as governor at the school.

Coun. Charlie Briggs, who represents Gannow ward, said he was “disgusted” with the school and claimed it had gone back on its word.

He said: “I am disgusted with the school in what they have done to the residents of the area. We had a meeting with the school where they told us that the fencing would be put up and that the residents would not have any access to it forthwith.

“I immediately resigned as a school governor as yes, I do feel that the children’s safety is important, but to dismiss the residents without a meeting and taking their feelings into consideration is unforgivable.”

His fellow Liberal Democrat councillor Neil Mottershead said that residents in the area had walked across and had use of the field for years.

Coun. Mottershead said: "I know several elderly people who have used this field daily for more than 50 years. There are also families, children and walkers that have use of the field, which is a big part of our community."

Burnley High School, which is operated by Chapel Street Community Schools Trust, said it had responsibility for the safeguarding and security of the school.

A spokesman for the Trust said: “We must put this first to ensure our children and staff are safe and cared for appropriately.

“We are keen to make sure that our school site is used by the community, and have ensured, as agreed, that there is access to the playing fields for the community by Rosegrove Football Club, who will use the playing fields through a formal lease agreement.

“The Trust is not aware of any formal agreement that has promised open public access and under current safeguarding requirements, neither the school or the DfE/EFA would be able to even consider such a potential risk to student well-being.

“We would very like to work with local councillors and residents in a productive and thoughtful way, so that we can provide what we all want – a safe, secure environment for our children, as well as for the local community that we are very proud to serve.”