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Fresh hope this morning for Welshpool's "Wiggly Path"

Created on 23/07/2017 @ 09:12
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Powys County Council will look at ways to keep Welshpool's famous "Wiggly Path" open when it secures the Ardwyn School campus.

Earlier this month MyWelshpool revealed that due to child safety concerns, the whole school campus would be closed off to the public, which meant the end of access to a path that has been used as a shortcut to town for more than 60 years.

It was said that: “Issues have been raised that members of the public use the Ardwyn School grounds, not only during out of school hours, but also during school hours, especially dog walkers, creating very real safeguarding issue, which was of significant concern to staff, parents, pupils, governors and wider members of the community.”

But the decision was met by considerable anger from residents who believe the alternative of using the Red Bank road is far too dangerous, especially for people pushing prams.

Now County Councillor Graham Breeze has intervened, asking council officers to examine ways of keeping the path open while at the same time improving safety issues for pupils.

"I have had a meeting with Gareth Jones, Interim Head of School Services, and he has visited the site. He has agreed to investigate alternatives that would meet the increasing needs of both the school and the Welshpool public who have used this route for over 50 years.

"The safeguarding of school pupils must come first but I am confident a compromise can be found which will meet the demands of the school governors and staff along with those who regularly use the pathway," he added.

Prominent resident Dennis Duggan set the ball rolling with a Facebook post questioning the decision and it was supported by a scores of people.

Linda Hilditch said: “The wiggly path has been used for over 60 years without any problems. Both the Croft path and the pavements are not suitable for mums with prams. It’s a shame to see part of Welshpool history close as well as the name of my old nursery school disappear.”

Rosie Fox added: “The thought of the wiggly path closing to the public horrifies me. It is a Welshpool institution and considering the school has been open some 50+ years with no incident speaks volumes.”

Ian Harrison, Chair of the Governors, responded on Facebook saying: “The Governing Body decided that the path should be closed to improve child security and safety. 

"It had been widely assumed that the path was public. However, it is not on the Powys designated list and is not a public footpath. Of course, once the school has moved to the new site I suspect the path can be opened up again.

“The Governing Body took professional advice from Council Officers regarding the status of the path. The school has frequently been criticised by Child Safety auditors regarding the security of the site. 

"The change to Primary school status means that the age profile of the school increases and it simply got to the point where something had to be done to improve child safety."

Ardwyn School will officially close at the end of the current term to be replaced by the new Welsh School to be named Ysgol Gymraeg Y Trallwng. All Welsh-only education will remain at the Ardwyn site on Red Bank until the new school is built at Maesydre in time for pupils to return from the 2019 summer holidays.

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