A PLAN to fence off part of a Worthing park for pupils to use during school hours has been rejected by the council after it was met with great opposition.
Following a public consultation process, regarding a fenced off play area for school children to use within Victoria Park, Worthing executive member for the environment, councillor Clive Roberts, announced that the idea has been rejected and the park will remain as is.
Victoria Park is regularly used by to two local primary schools – St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Cobden Road and Heene CofE Primary School in Norfolk Street.
Earlier this year, Mr Roberts proposed that Worthing Borough Council create a fenced area to provide children with a safe and clean place in which to play without restricting casual use of the rest of the park.
Teachers from both schools claimed that children were exposed to litter, dog mess and approached by strangers when using the park for sports, and therefore a safer, cleaner area needed to be provided.
But almost 600 members of the public responded to the survey, with nearly 65 per cent voting against the idea.
Councillor Roberts has acknowledged the consultation feedback and confirmed this month that the area will not be fenced off.
He also expressed his thanks to everyone who contributed to the consultation exercise.
Mr Roberts said: “Although the idea of providing dedicated, safe, clean play areas for the young school children who regularly use the park has been rejected, I am heartened by the many members of the public who took part in this public consultation and in expressing their opinions in matters that affect their local community.
“This level of public engagement is very impressive.”
A resident living close to Victoria Park, Frances Hirst, came out in opposition to the consultation earlier this year, claiming it would largely downsize a popular public asset.
Prior to the consultation she told the Herald: “My main objection to the fence proposal is that the fence will act as a barrier across the green restricting flexible use and reducing opportunities for sport and play of local residents.
“This is another example of the gradual erosion of public open space in the centre of Worthing.
“Worthing has already lost the paddling pool, boating lake, part of the green and tennis courts at Beach House Gardens.”
The fence proposed was 3ft 9in high, which is similar to that around the existing playground, with a traditional bow top fence made from galvanised steel and powder coated.
Following the consultation, where the proposal was rejected by the council, Mrs Hirst said she was happy to see the plan finally go.
She said: “I am very pleased that the green at Victoria Park will remain a public open green space available for everyone to enjoy for sport and recreation.
“The Worthing Borough Council website does not give the reason that the proposal was rejected apart from the fact that almost 65 per cent of the 580 respondents were opposed to the proposal.”