A FENCE will be erected around a school playing field to block off access, in what nearby residents describe as ‘an end of an era’.

Devizes School is concerned that people outside the school community have been entering the school’s playing field.

While there, they say they have been having barbecues and leaving litter and rubbish in their wake.

It was also reported to school staff that some residents of Pans Lane had put gates in their own fences to be able to access the school grounds, without getting approval of the school authorities - but residents say the gates have been there for decades.

The school plans to install a 1.8m fence to deter unauthorised entry. It will stretch behind some of the Pans Lane properties to prevent access.

Julian Morgan, Headteacher at Devizes School, said: “At Devizes School, safeguarding is paramount to us and every decision made by our school always considers what is in the best interests of our children.

"Both the school senior leadership team and the White Horse Federation regularly review potential safeguarding risks and, as a consequence of this,we have identified a significant risk associated with current public access to our sports field.

That is why, following internal consultation and liaison with local council leaders, we have taken the decision to install a 1.8m fence along the perimeter to allow us to keep our children safe."

Pans Lane and Edward Road residents have now teamed up to deliver a signed letter to Devizes School - with their key concerns surrounding the costs of the fence, impact on wildlife, land ownership and how closely the large green fence will back onto their properties.

One resident said the planned design was “prison like” while another said it felt like residents had become “scapegoats.”

The fence proposed

The fence proposed

He added: “We’ve been out and picked up the litter and broken glass left behind, sometimes bin bags full of rubbish. It’s not people here that are the problem, the school would know that if they spoke to us.”

Neighbours to the field hope that a meeting can be held so they can find out more about the proposals - such as if there are any potential developments that the perimeter fence could lead to.

The issue was discussed at Devizes Town Council this week, following a meeting between school staff and councillors Ted East and Judy Rose.

Councillor Rose said residents did not feel like they were the “chief culprits” while Councillor Brown also said she had been contacted by Pans Lane residents.

She said: “If they’d been consulted there wouldn’t be this kind of anger.”

The fence will not require planning permission and will be erected on August 9.

Mr Morgan added: "We believe this is the next course of action to take but recognise this may impact prior informal access. However, it's critical we make the changes now, prior to the next academic year, so as to avoid future unnecessary risks.

"It’s also important to note this project is part of wider works around the school to safeguard our pupils.

"For example, significant work is being undertaken in the school’s reception to further safeguard our young people."