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Concern for 'undesirables' prompts Torquay girls' school to close footpath

By Herald Express  |  Posted: January 12, 2013

closed: Residents angered that the pathway next the the grammar school is closed Andy Styles TQAS20130108A-001_C

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RESIDENTS in Torquay are up in arms after a popular path and shortcut was closed.

The pathway, which runs alongside Torquay Grammar School for Girls from Queensway through to Shiphay, is now out of bounds because of concern for 'undesirables' in the area.

Grammar school bosses claim the move has been prompted by some unwanted approaches to students in the secluded shortcut.

And it wants to protect the site while building work on a new sports hall is under way.

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Sharon Wallwork, the school's director of finance and resources, claimed: "There have been incidents along the path that have endangered our pupils and we have decided along with the boys' school that the path is closed.

"It is a difficult situation but it is not registered as a public right of way and it is on the school's land.

"We know it is used by the public but we have to put safety first."

Ms Wallwork said on occasions police have been alerted and school staff had patrolled the route.

She said the building work continues until September and the governors will look again at the decision in the summer.

She said: "Our contractors are insisting on a secure site. We can't have anybody going on to the site and it has to be secured to trespassers."

Residents have raised concern about the loss of the shortcut which they use to reach the doctors and dental surgeries in Shiphay Lane.

Ward councillor Mark Pountney said: "I fear the real objective here is to close the path permenantly to the community in order for the school to protect its perimeter.

"We want to organise a meeting with governors to see if we can come to an agreement and if not, I will help the community to get a legal right of way to force them to re-open it. The choice is theirs."

Neighbour Raymond Ryalls said: "Scores of people have been using that path for decades.

"The school students use it and it eases congestion on the main road with parents dropping them off. We are worried that it will be closed permanently."

They have contacted Torbay Council to find out about registering it as a public right of way arguing that it has been used for years.

The school is likely to argue against right of way due to security reasons — a provision open to schools under the Highways Act.

A Torbay Council spokesman said: "The footpath, owned by the grammar school, is not a registered public right of way. Therefore, the school is entitled to close it when necessary.

"The council has received a few calls from local residents and an officer has advised them of how they can start the process of applying to register the footpath as a public right of way should they wish to do so."

Contractors are currently on site building the new £1.8million sports hall.

The school has fundraised and secured a total £1.6million grant from the academy capital fund for the new facility which includes four tennis courts, a fitness suite, classroom, viewing gallery, office space and changing rooms.

The hall is being built next to the all-weather pitch on fields near Heywood Close.

Ms Wallwork said: "This is an exciting venture for us that will widen the sports available for our students and go along way to addressing gender equality in sports."

Sherri Pomeroy, neighbourhood Police Community Support Officer for Chelston with Cockington, said there had been one incident where a man was arrested for exposure.

She said the main issues were security and dog fouling.

She said: "The decision is around the health and safety and welfare for the students.

"The lane is quite secluded and during school hours when it is very quiet, potentially it could be attractive to people looking for somewhere a little more private.

"The main issues are dog fouling which may not seem such an issue for the older children but it is for pupils at the neighbouring primary school.

"It is about their welfare rather than undesirables."

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  • tobyseah  |  January 18 2013, 12:35AM

    Let me straighten up this article for you: "There have been incidents along the path that have endangered our pupils and we have decided along with the boys' school that the path is closed." - This is false, the boys' school strongly opposes the fence and considers it ridiculous. They are in fact favor of reopening the path. "She said the building work continues until September and the governors will look again at the decision in the summer." - She said, but no it doesn't. The planning permission for the sports hall was granted on condition of public access. Therefore the fence will have to come down anyway - better sooner than later and it keeps an important business afloat. She said: "Our contractors are insisting on a secure site. We can't have anybody going on to the site and it has to be secured to trespassers." - It is indeed the responsibility of the contractors to secure their own machinery. Their insurance will not cover machinery which is fenced off by the school; this point is invalid. "She said the main issues were security and dog fouling." - Can you make up your mind woman? The excuse seems to change every time the previous argument is destroyed. "The main issues are dog fouling which may not seem such an issue for the older children but it is for pupils at the neighbouring primary school." - What does age have to do with dog ****? "It is about their welfare rather than undesirables." - Sorry, what's the headline again? Oh right yeah, you contradicted yourself.

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  • angry_student  |  January 17 2013, 11:08PM

    'gender equality' in sport seems rich from a school which in all my experience has served to reinforce gender stereotypes in their curriculum, especially sporting. they encourage and practice rounders and netball (traditionally feminine) and refuse to teach football or rugby (traditionally masculine), so any effort to champion sporting gender equality needs to be taken with a pinch of salt given the seemingly victorian attitudes they have toward it. furthermore, they closed the path originally due to 'health and safety', then because of fear of trespassers however the construction company have expressed the opinion that this may be acheived via means less extreme than inconveniencing the local community hugely, and in the process closing down a local independant shop. moreover, the excuse of concern for 'undesirables' is clearly that. an excuse. it was never mentioned before their motives were questioned and seems to complicate their point, if the path is closed because of a flasher, then why wasnt it closed immediately after the incident, rather than a number of months later, and if it is because of unnecessary health and safety precautions then why complicate this with talk of undesirables? this is plain cold hearted grammar school boligerance, something of which i have first hand experience. sincerely, angry student.

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  • jaysea12  |  January 17 2013, 7:38PM


  • jaysea12  |  January 17 2013, 7:35PM

    I challenge The Herald to take this from the COMMUNITY's side. The Grammar school will have to re-open the path, it will be established as a public right of way. I did write a huge explanation of why and how this has effected the community, and the students of both schools alike, however, that didn't send properly and I feel it unnecessary. I will be contacting The Herald tomorrow and, hopefully, the other side of the story WILL be heard, the side which involves the last remaining independent store being forced to close being of Grammar's attempt at playing hard ball. I look forward to expressing my view. I hope you look forward to hearing it. For now, null it may not be massive, but we HAVE BEEN TRYING.

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  • Hocus_Pocus  |  January 15 2013, 12:54PM

    There should only be children on the path at the start and end of school, it wouldn't be hard work to have a teacher walking up and down for a few minutes while the kids come and go! If they want to deter undesirables then they should get the foliage cut back, last year a tree lay accross the path for months and at somepoints especially the Queensway end it was single file, if they are going to allow public access then it should be safe to use. Also there are plenty of TGGS and TBGS that use the path as a mass smoking zone, TGGS are keen to point out its their path, then they are allowing underage smoking on their site! While I am old enough to remember smoking behined the bike sheds and its by no means anything new, if TGGS are keen to stick to the rules then they should enforce them equaly.

  • realityzone  |  January 13 2013, 11:28AM

    Bleach; If, as the report says, the public have used the path for "decades" and there has been no yearly interruption to that, then it is likely that a prescriptive right to use it does exist and that it has become a public path. Clearly those in the photograph think so

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  • DevonJanner  |  January 13 2013, 9:50AM

    torquay grammar always out with an ulterior motive to gain a fast buck,amazing how the filming of torre railway station was highlighted on the tv news recently,you see even though the grammar is state funded ,they have so many private school pupils there ,that they have lost the working class ethic and risen above their station,let the police do their job to enforce any misdemeanors,but dn`t blind the public with a smokescreen!!!

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  • Bleach  |  January 13 2013, 7:37AM

    @realityzone: "They are quite right to protest at withdrawal of another public path" From the article: "It's not registered as a public right of way and it's on the school's land" It's not a public path.

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  • SmartyC  |  January 12 2013, 1:23PM

    If the issue is "undesirables" approaching Grammar School pupils then surely the simple answer is to tell Grammar School pupils not to use the path. Pupils not in danger, path still open to the pubic, problem solved, no one inconvenienced. Doesn't take a lot of figuring out does it..?

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  • SidneyNuff  |  January 12 2013, 11:13AM

    And what did the local council allow to be built just around the corner from the grammar school, the newton road hostel that houses sex offenders on a regular basis. Well done again the local council.

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