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Welford Playing Field Closure – WPC letter to residents

Dear resident

Welford on Avon Playing Field Closure – Letter from the Parish Council

Following the decision by Governors of Welford on Avon Primary School to lock the gate to the field adjacent to the School on Friday 24th May 2024, until further notice, we wish to update you. The gate was locked, without communication to the wider community. A public notice and a letter to the Parish Council arrived at 5pm. The communication from the school advised that it was now closed for half term break and would return to school on the 3rd of June 2024.

The letter asks the Parish Council to contact the school to arrange to vacate and remove the play equipment for disposal or relocation to another amenity site at the expense of the Parish Council (you the taxpayer).  The letter states that it sees benefit in the Parish Council performing its task without legal redress, or recourse to Warwickshire County Council (WCC) as the freeholder, including the need to issue either eviction notices or proceedings.  The Governing Body conclude by offering their continuing support to the Parish Council in carrying out their statutory duties of providing amenity areas in the village, and encourage the Parish Council to do so, with child welfare uppermost in their minds.  The letter also asks the Parish Council not to disturb them further on this issue.  A copy of the letter can be found on the Parish Council website, at

The public notice displayed by the school on the gate to the playing field states the responsibility for providing amenity areas in the village falls to the Parish Council, and there are provisions in the village with play areas for children at Synder Meadow and Cress Hill.

In justifying their actions, the governors refer to DfE statutory guidance “Keeping children safe in education 2023”. The Governors decision is recorded in the minutes of Welford on Avon Primary School Extra Ordinary Meetings of 14th May and 23rd May.

The playing field is owned by Warwickshire County Council, not the school.

The Parish Council’s position on the playing field has developed following feedback received from the community including conversations, emails, social media, the Annual Parish Meeting and more recently two petitions. The Parish Council have received reports of upset and concerned parents, children of all ages, and their extended family and friends from the village and beyond, including reports from parents being scared to voice their feelings.

The Parish Council also consider it to be overreaching of the Governing Body to direct children to play at Cress Hill adjacent to the river and at Synder Meadow, isolated from the centre of the village.

The overwhelming message from the community is one of looking to the Parish Council to maintain and protect the amenity space at the playing field. The Parish Council doesn’t have a statutory duty to provide amenity space, however we believe it is fundamental to children’s safety, everyone’s wellbeing, and for social cohesion within our community that this space is maintained. Our predecessors set up a Village Playing Field Trust in the 1950s and the village is determined to maintain the facility which has been in place for more 60 years.

The view expressed by the community is supported by Government, WCC and a number of other public bodies:

  • The Department for Education – ‘Involving the Secretary of State in Land Transactions’, September 21, provides for ‘Joint User Agreements’.
  • Warwickshire County Council’s – Warwickshire Children and Young People Strategy 2021-2030 includes a local and community-based approach to provide play, leisure, culture, and sporting opportunities. A quotation from the document: ‘We will ensure all children have local access to play and leisure activities.’
  • The Children’s Commissioner ‘Playing Out’ Aug 2018 discusses outdoor activities for children including the use of school assets.
  • The recent OFSTED Report for Welford on Avon Primary School Oct 2021 states “The arrangements for safeguarding are effective” (written prior to the school erecting a fence around the playing field).

The BBC has reported on a similar situation where a school must share a playing field with the community – BBC News

There are several similar situations across the country where the users have worked together to keep children safe, responding to what the Governing Body appear to rely as part of their justification.

We have found other schools that have dealt with the same situation in a very different way and are sharing local authority assets with their communities. As we have maintained all along, there many ways facilities can be shared safely.

The Parish Council are aware of two online petitions on the field closure, started by a local resident. One asking for the reopening of the play area – 467 votes and the second, a no confidence vote in the Governing Body – 38 votes. They do provide an additional way for the Parish Council and others to gauge village sentiment.

The Parish Council has written to the Chair of the Governing Body and Head Teacher with a copy to Warwickshire County Council. (Darren Pembleton, elected County Councillor for Stratford and Manuela Perteghella, District Councillor for Stratford have also been copied).   A copy of the letter can be found attached to the gate of the playing field and is available on the Parish Council website at

The Parish Council has also written to the Chief Executive of WCC, the Head of Property Services & Strategic Asset Management Enabling Services Resources Directorate and the Senior Solicitor at WCC.  The Parish Council has again repeated its request for a meeting with the School Governing Body and WCC. We are surprised we’ve come to a point where the local community School won’t meet with its Parish Council and equally that the Governing Body made this decision without any consultation.

School staff probably find themselves in a very difficult position. The Parish Council urge all residents to be mindful of this.

The Parish Council has also received questions relating to use of S.106 money, including the use of the recently built school hall and reports that various local children’s groups have been excluded from meeting there.  We will raise this matter with WCC and SDC.

The Parish Council very much appreciate the significant feedback and strongly encourage you to continue to share your views with us and other relevant bodies until the gate is reopened.

Welford on Avon Parish Council


Letter from Welford on Avon governors to Parish Council, 24 May 24
Keeping children safe in education 2023, DfE, 1 Sep 23
Involving the Secretary of State in Land Transactions, DfE, Sep 21
Warwickshire Children and Young People Strategy 2021-2030, WCC, Sep 21
Playing Out, The Children’s Commissioner, Aug 18
Welford on Avon Primary School OFSTED report, Oct 21
School must share Stoke Lodge playing field with community, 29 Jun 23
Reopen Welford-on-Avon Park After School Hours, petition, 25 May 24
Hold a Vote of No Confidence in Welford on Avon School Governors, petition, 26 May 24 
Welford on Avon Parish Council letter to school, 27 May 24

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