A PRIVATE school in Worcester has been criticised for blocking off a popular route for city centre walkers – without its headteacher and CEO knowing about it.

King’s School has taken away a stile and built up fencing to block the route through its field from Slingpool Walk to Chapter Meadows heading towards Diglis.

A second wire fence has been erected a matter of feet in front of that but some level of access appears to have been restored after the top two levels of wire were cut.

Worcester News:

Chapter Meadows is an area managed by Duckworth Worcestershire Trust, an organisation which has been in touch with Councillor Richard Udall, who represents Worcester St John’s on Worcestershire County Council.

The alternatives to reach Chapter Meadows are to walk around the school field or follow a sodden, slippy route through an unmanaged grassy area that would leave walkers covered in mud.

Worcester News:

“It is sad, unfortunate and unnecessary,” said Cllr Udall.

“It is not listed as a public right of way but it has been used by the public for generations and was opened up and stiled by the Duckworth Trust.

"They are not happy about what has happened either, they have had meetings with King’s School who were adamant people had to be stopped from entering and routes across their land had to be closed.

“It is the major route from Slingpool Walk to Chapter Meadows and clearly some people have already taken direct action to secure access.

"That is unfortunate, I would never condone any kind of criminal damage but it shows how angry people have become about the obstruction of a very popular route.

"I accept it is private land and not a public footpath but the school could do some things to alert people to that and ask them to respect that.

"Most people will respect that and not cause any damage or problems. We should be building bridges and bringing down fences, not shutting off areas.

"A lot of people use this route for exercise, particularly during the pandemic, and now they are denied access to the green area they are used to using.”

Cllr Udall indicated his belief that the decision had been taken “unilaterally,” an opinion that was given credence by chief executive and head Gareth Doodes.

Worcester News:

“This matter was brought to my attention today (Tuesday) and I am looking into it further,” said Mr Doodes.

“It would be wrong of me to comment until I have ascertained what has happened.

"I have informed Councillor Udall, who raised the complaint via social media, that I will be in touch with him directly.”

Cllr Udall took solace from his instinct that “the headteacher is responding favourably”.

“I seriously hope King’s School reconsiders its decision and finds a way to reopen it again,” he added.