Fencing-off part of Manor Sports Ground for use by the new Bohunt academy has been approved this afternoon (Friday, October 14).
Cabinet member for environment Clive Roberts’ decision means schoolchildren will be separated from members of the public in order to avoid disruption to lessons.
No additional public consultation will take place – despite calls from campaigners to do so.
Bohunt supported fencing to manage reported problems with dogs off leads affecting lessons. But the Manor Action Group (MAG), set up by residents, opposed the idea.
A report to Mr Roberts warns legal action could be triggered on the grounds that fences could breach a covenant on the land.
The council’s legal advice submits such a challenge could be successfully fought – but there was ‘no guarantee’.
“Legal experts consider that there is a risk of considerable costs being incurred by the council in dealing with attempted challenges to the fence,” the report states.
West Sussex County Council – the local education authority – has offered to pay for the £27,593 cost of installing the fence.
It has also offered a £10,000 war chest for fighting legal action. Borough council officers, however, want ‘full indemnity’ to be obtained.
MAG, along with South Broadwater Residents’ Association, had called for consultation of affected residents before a final decision was made.
A consultation on proposed changes to existing dog control orders, which closed in September, received 56 per cent support.
This would allow dogs to be allowed off leads, if fences were installed. Under current restrictions, those using the ground should keep dogs on leads at all times.
Cabinet members agreed to explore ‘zoning’ of the ground at a meeting in February last year.