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Tennis players find path to courts blocked by Sutton Valence School's new fence

By Alan Smith

Tennis players have called fault on a new fence erected by Sutton Valence School.

The two-bar 3ft high wooden structure was supposed to mark the boundary between the school grounds and the village’s War Memorial Playing Fields, off North Street, which hosts the village hall and the tennis club courts.

But the fence has intruded into ground owned by the parish council by around a foot in some places, narrowing the path at the rear of the courts.

Ruth Colman (front), Richard Coleman and tennis club secretary Jenny Waterman (head) on the narrowed path.

Club secretary Jenny Waterman said: “It’s now very difficult for two people to pass.”

The school has also blocked off the path at the point it enters the school’s Big Meadow, despite it being linked to a public footpath that runs through the school.

Ruth Coleman, of The Platt, is one of the tennis club members affected.

She said: “I’ve been using that path for 20 years. I’m sure others have used it since the courts were built there, possibly 50 years ago.”

Mrs Coleman said it was not just tennis players who had been inconvenienced.

“The path is well used by dog walkers and people just out for a walk,” she said.

Ruth Coleman, tennis club secretary Jenny Waterman and Richard Coleman at the point where the path has been blocked.

A proposal to close the post office in the centre of the village and to transfer it to The Haven Farm Shop in North Street is currently being considered.

It approved it could mean many more people using the path.

Although the school initially disputed that the fence was in the wrong place, it has now relented and agreed to move it back to the boundary.

Its development manager Helen Knott said: “We will be meeting Mrs Coleman to discuss access to the courts from the school grounds.

“We are hopeful of finding a compromise that gives the tennis club access, but deters those who use the sports pitches to ride motorcycles or who let their dogs foul in the area.”

Mrs Coleman was delighted with the news.

She said: “The bursar has mentioned the possibility of putting in a kissing-gate. I’m so happy that the school has shown some common sense.”

The narrowed path
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