Council vow to intervene in campaign over school walking route through Eaton golf club
16:50 17 January 2014
Councillors in Norwich have pledged to intervene to try to help parents concerned for the safety of children walking to school get a decision to shut off public access through a golf club overturned.
Children and parents walking to Eaton Primary School and the nearby City of Norwich School cut through Eaton Golf Club car park, off Sunningdale, with the club’s permission.
But bosses of the club have revealed they will permanently lock the access gate from February 24 because it is believed the current route poses a danger to the children who use it.
Peter Jones, club manager, says the decision to close the gate has been taken due to an increase in both traffic to the club buildings and in the numbers of children cutting through the car park.
He said: “The safety of the children is paramount to us. We have had various meetings with the council and the schools and everyone has agreed it is not safe.
“There have been several near misses. The other day there were children playing hide and seek behind the cars. They are not always accompanied by adults.
“We are exploring other avenues to see if there is a safe route through the car park.”
But the decision has prompted worried parents to launch a campaign and come up with alternative solution that would still allow access through the gate. On Wednesday a group of parents took their concerns to Norwich City Council’s cabinet, urging committee members to help them in their fight to keep the gate open.
Dr Alice Brewer, one of the parents organising the ‘Save Our School Run’ campaign, said: “It is with profound disappointment that the residents of Eaton have learned that our traffic-free school route is to be closed permanently.
“The only alternative route is prohibitively long, and necessitates children walking along a busy commuter cycle path right next to the A11.”
Dr Brewer, who reminded cabinet members that the city council has recently received almost £250,000 to “make walking a natural and attractive choice” added: “Will the cabinet please now commit to working with Eaton Golf Club to ensure that this vital pedestrian route remains open to safeguard the health of our children for years to come, and also commit to working with colleagues at the county council to save this route?”
Mike Stonard, cabinet member for environment, development and transport, said: “Norwich City Council is committed to promoting walking and encouraging children to walk to school is a key factor in developing good habits.
Mr Stonard said the city council played “no part” in the decision to close the gate and was “disappointed” to learn of the decision when it was announced.
He added: “We would be very happy to talk to the golf club and county council to try and make them change their decision or come up with a viable alternative.”
But Mr Jones said he felt the current route through the golf club car park posed more danger than the longer route proposed by the council.
“The alternative route is half a mile longer but it should all be on footpaths,” he said.
“There are cars and large vehicles using our car park,” he said.
A meeting of all interested parties is scheduled to take place on January 24, organised by Norfolk County Council.
To join the campaign search for ‘Save our Schoolrun’ on Facebook.