Following a consultation in response to safety concerns from local police, Merton Council’s cabinet agreed last night to close the footpath between John Innes Park and John Innes Recreation Ground during school hours from the start of term.
An alternative path for residents should be provided as soon as possible.
The consultation asked the public for their views on closing the footpath whilst the school is open, following a request from the school to make the grounds more secure for its pupils in the light of police recommendations to improve security there.
The council and school will also be jointly funding further security works at the main entrances to Rutlish School.
A total of 1,117 questionnaires were completed as part of the consultation, with the majority (59%) agreeing that the footpath should be closed during school hours. 67% stated that closing the path would cause no inconvenience or very little inconvenience to them.
Rutlish School has two main sites, situated either side of the footpath, which links John Innes Park to John Innes Recreation Ground, and provides a direct pedestrian and cycle route from one to the other.
Partial closure means the footpath will be closed from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, in term time from September.
The council recognises that some residents will be affected by the restricted access to the footpath, as it provides a direct route to John Innes Park tennis courts, the bowling green and croquet lawn.
Park users can take an alternative route via Watery Lane and Manor Road, but the planned alternative path will provide a shorter route mainly through the existing park which will be fully accessible. Due to the legal agreements required, this will take a few months to be completed.
Cabinet member for community and culture, Councillor Nick Draper said: “The council has a responsibility to ensure our young people’s safety. At the same time, we know that residents want to continue to be able to access their parks. We need to balance the needs of both the children at the school and park users, so I’m delighted we have been able to agree to make the school safe whilst identifying a new route for residents.”