Calls to repair danger wall

FURIOUS parents yesterdaycalled for a councillor to repair his dangerous wall and allow their children to use a school swimming pool.The outdoor pool at New Street Primary School, Woodbridge, has been closed because health and safety officers are worried an ancient flint wall adjacent to the pool could collapse.

FURIOUS parents yesterdaycalled for a councillor to repair his dangerous wall and allow their children to use a school swimming pool.

The outdoor pool at New Street Primary School, Woodbridge, has been closed because health and safety officers are worried an ancient flint wall adjacent to the pool could collapse.

The ban on swimming means that boys and girls aged from four to nine cannot swim this term. The ban also affects a weekly sports club, the summer fete and a leaving party for year six children.

A legal dispute lasting more than 12 months has developed between the county council and Nigel Barratt, a town, district and county councillor who lives by the school and owns the wall.


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He says there is a debate over who is responsible for maintaining the wall and he claims that the county council should care for the upkeep on their side of his wall.

''My solicitor wrote to the county council about three to four weeks ago and I am waiting to hear from them,'' said Mr Barratt.

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Bill Smith, the council's property maintenance manager, said: ''The county council has made enquiries as to the feasibility of installing another temporary structure around the wall which would enable the swimming pool to be re-opened. Regrettably, our contractors have been unable to give an assurance that any such measure would offer adequate protection to children should the wall collapse. "Naturally, as the safety of the children is paramount this does mean that we are unable to allow use of the swimming pool whilst there is any risk to the welfare of pupils.

''We are in continuing negotiations with the owner of the wall in order to resolve this situation. However, although he has offered to repair his side of the wall, the county council's surveyor is of the view that the relevant section of wall requires complete rebuilding in order to be safe.  Although the county council wants the matter resolved as soon as possible, we are unable to agree to pay for the cost of repair to a wall which we do not own or  maintain.''

A mother with an eight-year-old child, speaking on behalf of parents, said yesterday: ''We are only asking him to maintain his own property.

''The pool is in a perfectly good condition but children are being deprived of swimming."

Kevin Connolly, the school's headteacher, said: ''We had an inspection of the wall and it was considered unsafe to allow people in there. I then asked the county council if they would shore it up some more, as they did last year, but they said no.

''The county council had a meeting with Mr Barratt about the state of the wall and then became concerned that it was more than just our side of the wall that was crumbling, and that there were other structural problems and they said we were not allowed to swim.

''We were hoping that the whole situation would have been resolved by now.''

Mr Connolly said some parents wanted their children to use the pool and to sign a disclaimer, but he said the school would still have been responsible for an accident. He added the school could not afford to pay for the children affected to swim in the town's public swimming pool.

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