Walkers protest in Moreton Morrell after college blocks access to land

Villagers walked through the grounds of the Warwickshire College campus in Moreton Morrell for what could have been the last time on Sunday.They were protesting against the college blocking public access to the grounds.
Villagers walked through the grounds of the Warwickshire College campus in Moreton Morrell for what could have been the last time on Sunday.They were protesting against the college blocking public access to the grounds.

Walkers have turned out in a large number to protest against Warwickshire College’s decision to block off public access through its Moreton Morell campus in the village.

About 170 people, most of them residents, walked along their favourite route through the campus on Sunday for what they feared could be the last time.

They say what was a small pleasure is now being taken away from them despite having to put up with issues caused by the campus over the years.

Protestor Lesley Maynard said: “The walk around the college has been a pleasure for local residents for many years.

“Through that time there have been no problems.

“This small pleasure is now being taken away from the village.

As a village we have to put up with quite a lot from the college - traffic, which will increase when the Henley-in-Arden campus closes next year and the student are bused to Moreton Morrell, as well as rubbish, noise and horses ridden along the grass verges.

“But we don’t make a fuss so a little give and take is all we ask.”

The decision to stop public access was made at a meeting last month and was implemented today (Tuesday).

John Vickery, the College’s director of estates, has written to villagers to explain the decision.

In the letter he has said: “The safety and security of our students is our primary concern and, in response to the college’s recent Ofsted report and safeguarding legislation, we are implementing changes in respect of public access to our Moreton Morell site.

“This has been discussed at length with village representatives.

“We fully appreciate this will come as disappointing news to villagers as we recognise they have been able to walk through the site for many years but, to ensure the safety and security of our students, they will not be able to walk through the grounds from November.”

The college has provided an alternative permitted route for walkers and dogs on leads around the perimeter of Box Field.

Officially designated footpaths around the site will remain open.

The college has also had to cancel its annual bonfire and fireworks display at the Moreton Morrell due to increasing financial pressures, which have lead to staff cuts, and to protect the increasing number of animals on the college site.

Mr Vickery has said: “We realise this is disappointing news but as a gesture of goodwill we would be willing to make a £500 contribution towards the cost of fireworks if an alternative venue can be found in the village.

“If not, we would be willing to contribute to this year’s Christmas Fayre at the school.”

Mr Vickery has invited young families to visit the college site when new animals arrive and has said that plans for new and improved sports facilities on site will be welcome news for villagers.