Cotham School has been fighting for the last eight years to put a fence around their playing fields at Stoke Lodge. The inner-city school has limited grounds. To be able to play sports the students need playing fields which are safe, and seen to be safe.
Unfortunately, some local residents have consistently opposed the school’s plans to put up a mesh fence.
As a result, the school has been unable to use the playing fields since 2014, following a risk assessment which highlighted dangers from people and dogs. During this time the school has been forced to rent other playing fields at huge expense. At a time when schools are struggling to make ends meet, this is even more challenging. And playing fields are very important for Cotham’s pupils, many of them from deprived areas of the city with few green spaces.
I believe objections to the fence are excessive and unreasonable. The school has always maintained that local residents will be able to continue to use the playing fields when they are not being used by the school. And everyone will still be able to use the perimeter area at any time.
Bristol City Council has confirmed that Cotham does not need planning permission to put up a fence on its own playing fields. The school has been using the fields since 2002 and took a long lease with Bristol City Council in 2011.
I wholeheartedly support Cotham School in building a fence, which upholds the school’s responsibility to protect students. This dispute has dragged on too long. I hope to see Cotham students playing football, rugby and other sports on Stoke Lodge fields very soon.