Harrow residents are battling to stop the famous local public school from closing an footpath used by parents and pupils at a state primary nearby. There are fears Harrow School will shut off a footpath on its grounds that provides quick and easy access to Roxeth Primary.
Parents and pupils at Roxeth, as well as the wider public, have used the path for many years, and there are concerns that blocking it will lead to much longer and more dangerous journeys for them. Those who walk through the area are concerned it will remove access to historic parts of Harrow-on-the-Hill.
Harrow Green Party’s Emma Wallace said: “It is concerning to hear of Harrow School’s latest plans to block a footpath in use by the public for decades. There appears to be little to no evidence of anti-social behaviour along this path, with pupils and parents of Roxeth Primary School using it on a daily basis.
“The path provides them with the shortest route up the hill and ensures children don’t have to walk along the extremely narrow footpaths and roads going up the hill. This seems to be more about the school blocking an historic right of way for the local community use, rather than about safety concerns for their students.”
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Eden Kulig, who lives in Harrow-on-the-Hill and is standing as a Labour candidate in this year’s local elections, said: “It’s unclear why Harrow School have decided to restrict access to the footpath, used by parents taking their children to Roxeth Mead and Roxeth Primary Schools.
“The Hill is home to hundreds of residents who rely on a network of footpaths to get around our local neighbourhood, and Harrow School needs to seriously reconsider this decision in light of the unhappiness of local residents at having their access to this footpath rescinded for no good reason.”
Other residents have contacted their MP Gareth Thomas, and have launched an online petition urging Harrow School to maintain access. Mr Thomas said he was aware of the “significant concern” felt by the community and he would contact Harrow School and Harrow Council to discuss the situation. He added: “I hope that access to footpaths can be resumed as soon as possible.”
Harrow School explained it has offered to speak with Roxeth Primary School and residents about this issue, while it has scheduled a meeting between Mr Thomas and its headmaster Alastair Land.
A spokesperson for Harrow School said: “While the route through the sixth form ground and John Lyon School has been used as a shortcut, it is not a public footpath and there is clear signage on the gates, which has been in place for many years, explaining that it is private property. We very much hope to reach a compromise with residents that will allow access through the grounds during the day.
“Unlike other school estates, Harrow does not have boundary walls and its grounds are criss-crossed with public footpaths that allow local residents to enjoy its unique and beautiful setting. Many of our facilities are open for the community to use, including the sports centre, golf club and tennis courts.”
Roxeth Primary School has been contacted for comment.