A Sudbury school has defended its decision to fence off playing fields that have been enjoyed by residents for more than 40 years.
In an effort to ensure student safety and resolve a persistent dog fouling problem Ormiston Sudbury Academy has recently constructed fencing around fields at the back of the school building in Tudor Road.
However the restriction on public access has led to criticism in some quarters.
Felicity Kirton, from Springfield Road, said she had lived in the area for 35 years and could not remember a time when families and dog walkers could not use the fields.
“In the summer evenings children play there and people have picnics at the weekends,” said Mrs Kirton.
“My children, who have grown up now, went to the school and played in the field all the time. It is part of the culture.
“There isn’t anywhere else in Springlands which offers such green open space and it is very sad it is fenced off.”
Caroline Wilson, principal at the school, said although the fields had been used by the public since 1973 they had always been private land.
“This is not something we wanted to do, but we feel we had no choice,” said Mrs Wilson.
“We need to keep the site secure and it has been a concern since the academy started in 2012 and long before then.”
She added that pupils, parents and teachers had become ‘fed up’ with dog fouling on the fields, which are used for PE lessons and during free time.
“We made a plea last year to try and tackle dog fouling, but it is still going on and it is unfair and unequitable,” said Mrs Wilson.
“People were also having picnics and leaving glass bottles which was not safe.”
The public footpath which runs across the field remains open for use via the gate in Acton Lane.