Parents' anger as kids left with 'nowhere to play' after park closes over safeguarding concerns

A petition has been launched to reopen a public park in Warwickshire that has left children and families nowhere to play. Welford Park owned by Welford Park Primary School in Stratford-upon-Avon was open after school hours but was made to close due to 'safeguarding concerns'.

It has left the community without a 'vital recreational space' says resident Anthony Ryan. Warwickshire County Council says the school decided to no longer allow public access, whereas Welford-on-Avon Parish Council says discussions were 'ongoing' and the community was 'its priority'.

They added they would ensure a 'valuable community asset' could continue to be used for many years. The park itself has been used by the community for over six decades, including three generations of Abi Burgoine's family.

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Speaking to BBC CWR, she said: "We accept that the park should be locked whilst the field is in use by the school. But we're going into six weeks where that field is not being used. There needs to be some compromise. From a moral perspective, it's not right."

She added that she had seen people playing football on the grass next to a road within the area, as there was no place else to go: "If we are really concerned about the safety of children here, which we should be, then we should be keeping spaces like this open that are safe and visible."

So far, the petition has reached 748 signatures of its 1,000 target. Organised by Anthony Ryan, he wrote: "Parks are essential for children's physical and mental well-being, providing a safe environment for them to play, socialise, and stay active. Reopening the park will benefit not only the children but also parents who need a secure place for their kids to unwind after school."

Many residents provided support online to help reopen the park. Rebecca Warren said: "The school is a part of the community and is now shutting itself off and an important valued resource from the community. The playground has long been used by our children and they are hugely disappointed they have nowhere to play."

Julie Roberts added: "This village park is for the use of all children. It should be open during and after school hours."

In a statement, Warwickshire County Council said there had been increasing legal requirements in schools, regarding the safeguarding and health and safety of pupils.

"Although the public only used the school field outside school hours, it has proven impossible to guarantee that the field is in a fit state for use by pupils the next day. The school has offered to discuss alternative arrangements with the parish council such as the provision of a secure area within the field for play equipment."

To sign the petition, click here.

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