A HIGH school is to spend more than £100,000 on a new fence after the actions of neighbours and trespassers left their ‘security compromised’.

Bolton Council’s planning committee granted permission for St James High School, Farnworth, to install a 2.4 metre high metal security mesh fence, with gates at various points around the perimeter of their buildings and playing fields.

Councillors heard many residents of Brindley Close and Highfield Road had access to the playing fields from the back of their homes, an area known as Dixon Green, and that they saw this as an ‘oasis’ of green space which they had enjoyed for years.

Andrew Lee, on behalf of the school, said: “We have a legal obligation to maintain a secure perimeter. To support this we have a government grant of £112,000.

“The area at the back the residents refer to is a fabulous teaching area because it is inaccessible from any road but unfortunately the security of the area has now been compromised.

“Several residents with properties backing on to the field have created their own gateways into the area and the removal of fence panels by one of the residents has made an open access to Brindley Close.

“We think it was at this point of entry that the school was broken into the other week.

“We believe some of the neighbours remain oblivious to the safeguarding issues they are creating by breaching the fencing.

“We’ve had to remove the remains of barbecues, clean up dog mess and fires and on one occasion I had to try and find out which home a young child lived in who was wandering around the site during the school day.

“Last year one resident decided to burn a load of garden refuse on the teaching space while our children were on the yard and was very challenging when he was confronted.

“In other areas the existing fence is broken and results in what amounts to free access to the site with issues with litter, drug paraphernalia, glass bottles and tin cans.

Cllr Maureen Flitcroft, addressed the meeting on behalf of several residents of Brindley Close and Highfield Road who objected to the new fence close to their homes.

She said: “Firstly they feel the application should have been two separate applications as many of the issues highlighted by the applicant only apply to the field on Lucas Road, which residents agree, has many issues and does not apply to the field referred to as Dixon Green, which is behind the school and bordered by Brindley Close and Highfield Road.

“For many years residents have benefited from use of the field outside school hours through an agreement with the school, almost like a right to roam.

“Obviously they are upset at the prospect of losing this.

“While they recognise this was a gesture of goodwill by school the are sad this may come to an end.

“This field has been described to me by residents as an oasis, many accessing the field directly from their gardens.

“The school has benefited from residents keeping the green space free of litter.”