Wembley fence divides community in more ways than one

A school has come under fire for blocking off its playing field

�A school has been criticised for blocking off a short cut across its playing fields that has been used by the community for more than 20 years.

Copland Community School in Cecil Avenue, Wembley, has put up a 2.5metre high steel fence where previously residents walked their dogs and children played on the grass.

Graeme Plunkett, Copland’s headteacher, told the Times he was forced to take action on safety grounds.

He said: “It was not a safe place for kids to play as there was dog mess and rubbish, and so we’ve decided to take action.”

“People liked to take a short cut when they could, but it was never a public right of way – it’s a school field.”

But the newly built fence, which affects people in the Wembley Central and Tokyngton wards, has angered one resident.

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Jaine Lunn, 51, of Ecclestone Place, Wembley, believes the steel structure will have a “major effect” on the local community.

She said: “I cannot walk my dog there any more and, with the summer months coming, local children cannot play there any more.

“If families want to have a picnic there, they cannot. Where are the kids going to play if they do not have a green? Football comes home to Wembley, but not for the kids because they’ve got nowhere to play.”

A Brent Council spokesman said: “The school fence does not block any public footpath or public right of way. The fence prevents access to the playing fields which are the property of the school.”

Two teenagers were arrested after they were caught trying to cut through the fence last month.

A 19-year-old was released the following day after being cautioned for criminal damage.