Right of way fight over school path
QUEENSWAY residents are upping their campaign to re-open a well-used footpath.
About 40 residents and ward councillors have applied for the shortcut, which runs alongside Torquay Girls' Grammar School from Queensway through to Shiphay, to be formally designated as a right of way.
They say they have used the route for more than 20 years and were dismayed when it was gated off in January after claims of 'undesirables' in the area.
Now they have taken their fight to Torbay Council to start the legal process.
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Ward Cllr Mark Pountney, who is leading the campaign, said it was with 'sadness' the residents had to take formal action.
He said: "This path has been in use by local residents for a very long time. Some residents can remember using it for more than 40 years.
"It's with great sadness the residents of Queensway and the connecting roads have had to go to these lengths to ensure this footpath remains a legal right of way, so that once again it can be enjoyed by both students and local residents alike.
"We believe the school has no support for its action, which has been totally unilateral.
"They may wish to fight our application, but they should be in no doubt of our resolve in this matter. I urge them to reconsider their position and rejoin the community they seem determined to abandon."
The residents have met with the school to discuss their concerns, but school governors have voted to keep the footpath closed. David Hughes, who has survived a brain injury, is a former school staff member and Queensway resident.
He said he was left 'disorientated' when the path was closed and believes a compromise can be reached.
He said the lane could be closed during school hours throughout term time, but opened at weekends and holidays.
He said: "We need to put forward an acceptable alternative which would not compromise security at the school."
Sharon Wallwork, the school's director of finances and resources, said the school would formally object to a public right of way order.
She said if it was re-opened then the school would apply for it to be extinguished due to security reasons — a provision open to schools under the Highways Act.
She said: "Any decisions will be discussed by the governors in due course."
The application is likely to be presented to Torbay Council's transportation working party in May. And if accepted, then the Right of Way will be advertised for 43 days.
If there are objections then the matter will be referred to the Secretary of State with the likelihood of a public inquiry.