Eaton & Cringleford

Parents won’t give up on campaign to keep gate open

Just Regional
Feb 7, 2014 5 mins read

Parents of schoolchildren in Eaton have suffered a setback in their campaign to keep a gate on Eaton Golf Club land open.

About 150 parents and pupils use the access gate to CNS everyday as part of their school route, but as of February 24 it will be closed due to safety concerns from the golf club, resulting in it issuing the council with notice that they would be revoking the right of way licence which allows access.

The closure will mean a 30-minute journey will take 50 minutes on the Branksome Road route.

Since discovering the gate would be closing, several parents have come together to start a “Save our school run” campaign on Facebook and have secured more than 700 signatures on a petition to keep it open.

A meeting held at County Hall on January 24 allowed all parties to give their views on the issue. The main solution suggested at the meeting was to create a segregated footpath to the gate.

However, the latest statement from the council as we go to print is that it is unable to fund the compensation requested by the golf club for the loss of land.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: “We want all children to be able to get to school safely and have been in discussions with Eaton Golf Club, the schools and parents to try to find a solution that works for everyone.

“This has included looking at the possibility of creating a dedicated pedestrian route through the golf club. However, the club has asked for tens of thousands of pounds in compensation and this is simply unaffordable for the council or the schools.

“We appreciate that the club is concerned that there may be a serious accident if things continue as they are, which means that the route will close after half-term.

“We want to do all we can to encourage children to walk to school and will be providing improvements to the existing Branksome Road route for this reason. This route is slightly longer but we feel it is the safest option for children walking to and from school.”

The golf club, however, insists there is more to it. In an update posted on Twitter, it states that over the last six months there have been discussions with the council and school about the possibility of the club gaining land on the CNS playing field. This could be used as a practice area or extra car park spaces to make up for those which would be lost in constructing the segregated route.

At the time this idea was turned down by the school, but the club is still hopeful that a land swap solution can be found.

Peter Johns, Eaton Golf Club general manager, even suggested that the practice area could be used by the schoolchildren, with the club professional providing tuition.

“We’re being made out to be money grabbing landowners, but our primary and sole concern is for the safety of the children who use the route,” he said.

“It is an issue that has been with us for a long time, but the number of near misses has increased because there’s more traffic.

“It’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Sarah Pearson, one of the parents involved in the campaign has been using the cut through for eight years to take her five children to and from school and is very disappointed with the current situation.

“The Branksome Road route is over a km longer and takes us over a private driveway and a blind bend, it’s not safe,” she said.

“The council say they will increase lighting on the route but that won’t help. Also Branksome residents aren’t happy to have an extra 150 people walking over their driveway. Fair enough!

“We heard rumours about the gate closing last year. However, no one thought to ask those that use the gate.

“Talks had been going on for months with no consultation. We found a leaked email and decided we had to act and set up the Facebook page and petition.

“We will keep campaigning!”

Eaton councillor Caroline Ackroyd commented: “Clearly the golf club’s stance on safety in their car park is paramount, but the closure of the route through the club will have a devastating effect on parents taking their children to Eaton Primary School via a healthy route, i.e. walking, and for pupils wanting to access CNS from the Greenways area and further afield in Norvic Drive.

“The knock-on effect for residents in Branksome Road, Sunningdale and Eaton Village will be increased traffic and more people trying to park.

“I would like to see discussion between CNS and the golf club about the possibility of a land swap as I believe that this could benefit all parties.

“Eaton LibDem Councillors are seeking a meeting with the school as soon as possible to explore available options.”

PICTURE: Rebel and Rose photography

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