People will have been irritated since before Christmas by the closure, without consultation, of the footpath between the Leisure Centre and Swimming Pool and the riverside walk beside the Tillingham.
The footpath, although on East Sussex County Council land, was used by hundreds of people every day, therefore could be considered a Public Footpath. It was used by parents on foot and bike, delivering and collecting their children, to and from school and nursery, often pushing smaller children in pushchairs. This is possible for two short periods each day, but late or delayed children will need to approach the school via The Grove.
As far as is known, there have been no actual incidents relating to non-school people using the footpath and the risks are not specified. However, the link route was also invaluable for several other groups, including those accessing the Leisure Centre from the Udimore Road, Tilling Green and Valley Park areas by foot and bike.
In addition, we are all exhorted by the health professionals to walk regularly to avoid illness and, eventually, possible hospitalisation. This has now become more difficult and limited. It would be interesting to know if Ofsted has been consulted and whether the Aquinas Trust has fully considered the wider community.
Correspondence from the head teacher suggests there have been intruders in the school, including an arson attempt. Presumably these intrusions happened at night, so closing the footpath during the day is irrelevant. The Head also cites an existential issue, “safeguarding our children and ensuring our children’s safety”. She will be interested to know the top causes of accidents to children, briefly: Car accidents, suffocation (mainly small children), drowning, poisoning, fire burns, falls and sports injuries.
None of these potential dangers is removed by closing a footpath. The Head and Academy Trust should reconsider their action as soon as possible. Money earmarked for a second gate and fence, beside the swimming pool, could be diverted to a more educational use, or to pay for one or two litter bins to address that problem around the schools.
Image Credits: John Minter.