LETTER: CRGS grounds ban has an ulterior motive

I WAS surprised to read the article in The Clitheroe Advertiser regarding the closure of the Clitheroe Royal Grammar School playing fields.

As a responsible dog owner, I feel we are being used as a smoke-screen for the real reason the public have been excluded from this popular open space. It may just be coincidence that all this has transpired after 60 years of uninterrupted public use, just at the time that the G6 audit takes place on all open spaces.

As many readers will be aware, the G6 audit would not consider the land for re-designation if it is used for public recreation, so for the land to be considered, it could not be seen to be of public use. The easiest way to do this is to ban people, and an even easier way is to claim it is the interest of health and safety!

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If dog fouling were the real reason for the closure, why ban people playing golf, children playing football on a Sunday afternoon, or walkers using the nature trail? Especially when at a recent residents/governors’ meeting, the school spokesman admitted on not one, but three separate occasions the school does not use the Chatburn Road playing fields for school activities and they are surplus to requirements, making them ideal for re-designation under the G6 audit. It also transpired at the same meeting that the school is in favour of selling the land for development (if re-designated), to raise funding needed for an indoor sports facility to be located at the Chatburn Road site. I wonder if the community and other local schools will be allowed to use this multi-million pound facility, or will it be kept for the exclusive use of the grammar school, like the new all-weather pitch, which local schools have been denied the use of on the grounds of... health and safety!

The closure isn’t just about stopping dog walkers using the path across the fields, it is about the newly-formed academy forgetting the clause of its funding agreement: “The school will be at the heart of its community, promoting community cohesion and sharing facilities with other schools and the wider community.” Why can’t the community use the facilities of a school which is supposed to be at the heart of it instead of fencing us out?