Plea for playing fields to reopen

The school playing fields in Greenaway Lane have suddenly been locked out of school hours.

And furious members of Greenaway Lane Residents Association, are urging Darley Dale Primary School to reopen them for public use

The fields have been used by residents as a cut-through and for children to play on for over 50 years.

School governors say the move is to keep youngsters safe and put a stop to vandalism but residents say there have never been problems before.

Darley Dale mayor Ingrid Pasteur said: “We have written to the school governors to ask why the gates have been locked and we are awaiting a reply.

“There has never been a problem before so why now and why so suddenly? It has been used as a way through by people and children in holiday time for years.”

In July plans to build a controversial housing development on the site were given the go-ahead.

Fifteen affordable homes and seven private properties are to be built on the site and three new class-rooms built at the junior school.

In February 2009 resident’s submitted an application to register the greenfield site, set to be developed, as a village green.

The application is waiting to be decided by the county council but has been given ‘priority status’ in light of the council’s scheme.

Cliff Cartwright, of Greenaway Lane Residents Association, said he’s gathered over 300 signatures in three days in support of the plans.

He added: “We are campaigning to keep the ‘green’ in Greenaway.

“There are fears that the whole of the A6 corridor from Darley Dale to Matlock is going to be a cityscape.”

Association member Andrew Bullock added: “The school has locked off the playing fields and spent a lot of money on new fences.

“It has been a public amenity for years and has been used freely by adults and children during summer holidays, half term and weekends.

“We are being encouraged to lead healthy lifestyles and suddenly these amenities are being locked off and there’s no where else for children to go.”

A spokeswoman for the school said there had been incidents of vandalism over school holidays.

She added: “The school is acting on advice following a security review of the school and have decided to lock gates leading to the school playing fields that have been previously unlocked.

“Our priority is to protect the school children and school property.”

A county council spokesman added: “This is a matter for the school but we would support the action that has been taken.