By Betsy Everett
A controversial decision to erect a six-foot fence around a village primary school has been ditched, seven months after it was announced.
In a letter to nearby residents last summer, the two acting heads of the school in Askrigg said planning permission had not been needed for the wire mesh fence, and they had hoped it would be in place by early September.
Joint heads Maxine Price and Eleanor Harrison cited “safeguarding procedures” which were necessary to prevent pupils “absconding,” and to stop intruders.
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However, after protests from residents, parents and members of Askrigg and Low Abbotside Parish Council, a working group of interested parties was set up in November to review the decision.
“I’m pleased to say we have found a solution that everybody in the group has had their say on and is happy with,” parish council chair Bruce Fawcett told members at their recent meeting.
A slightly lower fence would be placed on the inside of the hedge next to the main drive, to protect children walking on the path, with a gate at the end. On the opposite side, by the tennis courts, more beech hedging would be planted, and galvanised metal railings would be set on top of the wall fronting the main road.
“We think it’s a much better solution,” said Cllr Fawcett. “The railings will go a dullish colour in time so will hardly be noticed. We’ll plant some more more hedging among what’s already there near the tennis courts and until that grows we’ll put in some posts with half netting. It will only be temporary.”
The cost was high, but he did not disclose how much. “It won’t come out of school funds. You’ll be paying for it – the taxpayers,” he said. When news of the decision to build the fence came to the council in November, Cllr Fawcett said it was “the most controversial thing that has ever happened in this village in my lifetime. . . to put a six-foot fence around a primary school is outrageous.” District councillor Yvonne Peacock had described it as “absolutely ridiculous.” Resident MaryRose Kearney congratulated Cllr Fawcett and the rest of the working party on the decision they had reached. “It has been a very difficult situation and it sounds an absolutely ideal solution,” she said.