Furious residents in north Leeds have formed an action group against proposals by a local school to fence off a previously public field.
Gledhow Primary School has announced it plans to fence off its neighbouring Gledhow Field this August as it prepares to expand to meet a critical shortage in primary school places.
But campaigners say the field has been freely used by the public for the past 30 years and argue the school has enough outdoor space, even with its expansion.
Friends of Gledhow Field was set up six weeks ago in response to plans and has so far gathered over 400 signatures from the local community. Its chairman, Paul Sellars, said: “We were shocked because it has been used by people for so long. We feel it’s wrong that the school should end up with more than it needs and the community should be left with nothing.
“We do accept that there is a shortage of school places in Leeds. We don’t have any view whatsover on whether the school should be expanded or not.
“Our view is just the field at the back which, going back 30 years, has been used by local people and is the last green space in the area. There isn’t anything else other than this.”
Paul Brennan, deputy director for children’s services at Leeds City Council said their top priority is to ensure a high quality education, making best possible use of outdoor space for healthy active lifestyles.
He stressed Leeds City Council owns the whole field and a fence installed in 1996 around part of the field has never been the boundary line.
He said the playing fields will be leased free to not-for-profit organisations for community use out of school hours, adding: “We do recognise the concerns of the Friend’s Group however, we have a duty to safeguard children and fencing in the school’s playing field is an essential part of that duty.”