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Monmouthshire County Council’s plan to close part of the footpath which crosses the grounds of Castle Park Primary School, Caldicot, has been thrown out by Welsh ministers. A planning inspector, Heidi Cruickshank, ruled on the proposal on behalf of the ministers.
The footpath, number 28, is enclosed by fencing and runs across the school playing-field. The county council invoked a special law for closing paths across school grounds, which required it to prove that it was necessary to close the path to protect pupils or staff from violence or harassment.
The society’s local correspondent for Monmouthshire, Owen Morgan, and two others objected to the proposal. The inspector rejected the plan on the grounds that the school had not provided the necessary evidence. She concluded: ‘I do not consider that it has been shown that there is violence or the threat of violence, harassment, alarm or distress arising from unlawful activity or other risks to the health or safety of pupils or staff as a result of such activity’.
The police and the school claimed that the closure of the path would remove risk, but failed to show that the path was causing any risk. They referred to incidents which had occurred on the school grounds but, said the inspector, ‘there was generally nothing to show that these incidents arose as a result of access from footpath 28’; and that the fence to the south east of the path would anyway prevent any incidents arising as a result of access from the footpath.
We are delighted that the inspector agreed with us that the school had not made out a case for closing this important route through the town. We have helped to save it for local people.