Decision Due On Merton Park Footpath

Consultation reveals strength of feeling on issue

A decision is due soon on plans to close a Merton Park footpath during term time.

The path runs from John Innes Recreational Ground towards Mostyn Road, providing a direct pedestrian route between John Innes Recreational Ground and John Innes Park.

But it crosses the Rutlish School site and is said to create potential problems for the school in delivering its responsibility to safeguard students and staff.

Merton Council has run a consultation on whether the school should be able to gate the footpath and that the gates remain closed to the public during school hours (8.30am-3pm). They would only be closed during school term time and remain open at other times of the year. You can view the path plan here.

A consultation meeting to discuss the potential closure attracted around 150 people at the school in November, with many speaking against the proposal.

The council has now published its consultation report, which said: "Following the consultation process, the significant number of responses received and the high turnout at the public meeting to discuss the possible closure of the footpath has demonstrated that it is an emotive issue.

"There is a strongly held opinion amongst local residents that the footpath should be maintained as a public right of way and should be left open to avoid creating risks to park users."

It said a total of 412 completed surveys were received regarding the proposals, with 40% said in favour of the footpath being closed to the public during school hours, throughout the school term, whilst 60% were against.

Now the council's Cabinet will weigh up the issue, with it likely to appear on the agenda in the April meeting. It has not been listed, as anticipated, on the agenda for the March 21 Cabinet meeting.

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March 11, 2011