Merton Park Footpath Threatened With Closure Again

Security fears for children from Rutlish School

A public footpath connecting John Innes Recreation Ground to John Innes Park in Merton Park is under threat of closure again.

It divides the Rutlish School site into two parts and has long been regarded as a security risk to the school, because access onto either part of the site from the path is unguarded.

After consultation with local residents, Merton Council’s Cabinet decided in 2012 that the path should remain open. But a recent police report cataloguing many security weaknesses on the school site has pushed closure of the path back up the agenda.

The earlier plans involved the gates remaining closed to the public during school hours. Around 150 people attended a public meeting to discuss the issue in 2010, with many speaking against the proposal.

In the event that there is restricted access to the path during term time, park users would have to take an alternative route via Watery Lane and Manor Road.

Now a new survey of residents living close to the Park/ Recreation Ground is planned to run from mid-June for a period of six weeks. The consultation will be available on the council’s website , and paper copies will be available in libraries and from the civic centre.

Leader of the Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis: “It is only right that the school’s main responsibility is to its students and staff. The council also has a responsibility to ensure our young people’s safety.

"At the same time, we know that residents have concerns about accessibility to their parks so we want to give park users and others, including pupils and staff at the school, the opportunity to share the views about the future of the path and how we balance the safety of pupils with public access.”

Merton Council’s Cabinet will then decide in September whether the path should be closed – subject to due legal process. Residents outside the catchment area will be able to complete the survey on line.

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May 30, 2016