Confrontational meeting leads to school's u-turn on footpath closure

A Louth grammar school held a public meeting on Wednesday to discuss the proposed closure of a footpath dividing two parts of its site – a decision they have now agreed is a “bridge too far”.

A photo taken at Wednesday's meeting.
A photo taken at Wednesday's meeting.

King Edward VI Grammar School held a stormy public meeting on Wednesday night (September 14) to discuss the proposed closure of the Hospital Walk footpath from 8.30am and 4.30pm as a safeguarding measure.

The school’s headmaster Mr James Lascelles has now announced that this will not be going ahead and is seeking an agreement with residents on the best way forward.

A notice had been issued by the school which said the proposal came after increasing incursions onto the school site, including “acts of intimidation and harassment” of their pupils by groups of youths.

As a result, the school was proposing to restrict access to the Hospital Walk footpath during the school day, and to discuss these issues and the proposed closure, the school held a public meeting in the Old Sports Hall.

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Louth Town Councillor Andrew Leonard attended the meeting, said that not only had the proposal to close the path “rubbed the residents the wrong way”, but giving the local residents such short notice about the meeting had also done so.

He said: “It was a very confrontational meeting, with a lot of arguing and people were getting angry.

"One member of the public who was there described [Mr Lascelles] as treating them with the contempt of a used car salesman – it was awful.”

Louth Town Council confirmed that it was only informed of the public meeting, and the proposal, on the morning of the meeting.

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Mr Lascelles has since released a letter apologising for being unable to deliver his presentation outlining the proposals “due to the various interruptions and questions that were asked”:

"King Edward's is seeking to reach a local agreement on the best way to protect our students and staff.

"It was clear from [Wednesday's] meeting that the overwhelming view from residents was that restricting access to the footpath was a bridge to far.

"However, there were some excellent ideas and alternative thoughts proposed and we intend to follow these up via the creation of a permanent residents committee to advise the school on all of our current and future proposals, and on the next steps to take regarding the footpath”

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“We would be grateful to receive expressions of interest via [email protected] from those prepared to join and contribute to this permanent committee.”

The full plans can be viewed at https://www.kevigs.org/consultations.