Leigh school faces criticism for footpath gates plan
7:40am Thursday 5th September 2013 in NW
A LEIGH school is facing criticism over plans to erect gates on a public footpath, causing an ‘unlawful obstruction’.
Bedford High School, on Manchester Road, has started work to install three sets of iron gates on the footpath between its upper and lower schools, which will be locked during school hours.
But John Stirzaker, of Wycombe Drive, Astley, uses the footpath to cycle from his home to Leigh and fears the iron gates will end up being locked all the time.
He said: “This path is used by walkers and cyclists and has been for many years, and it is wrong that a school should be allowed to inconvenience them just so they can improve their own security.
“If this path is closed, I and other users risk serious injury if we have to use public roads.”
Contractors told Mr Stirzaker that the gates are being erected as a result of the fatal accident which occurred in the town in July 2012.
He said: “The excuse that this is a result of the accident can only be viewed as tenuous, as the accident was on the towpath some 100ft from the canal bridge that carries the footpath.”
A Wigan Council spokesman said: “We are mindful of the school’s safety concerns but also have a duty to protect the public’s access to highways such as this.
“The school has independently erected these gates without the council’s authorisation, which amounts to an unlawful obstruction of a public right of way.
“We are in contact with the school and working hard to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.”
A school spokesman said: “The footpath that runs through the school has long been a concern and we are currently exploring ways of making it as safe as possible.
“We are in currently in discussion with the relevant department within the local authority about our plans for the path.”
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