Petition after used needles and condoms found close to school

A CONCERNED mother has started a petition after used needles and condoms were found on a footpath which separates primary school buildings. Emma Dale-Smith has two children who attend Fairlands Primary School and Nursery in Stevenage. She has started a pe

A CONCERNED mother has started a petition after used needles and condoms were found on a footpath which separates primary school buildings.

Emma Dale-Smith has two children who attend Fairlands Primary School and Nursery in Stevenage.

She has started a petition asking Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) to completely remove trees along the footpath which separates the school's two sites, in a bid to deter anti-social behaviour in the area.

Alternatively, the petition asks for a gap in fencing to be repaired.

Ms Dale-Smith, who lives in Bedwell, said: "In the last two weeks needles and used condoms have been found on the footpath.

"We have already had children pick up needles so it's a big worry."

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She also said there have been incidents of dealers attempting to sell drugs to Year 6 pupils, and a woman has offered her body to parents picking children up after school.

She said: "We had the first reported incident just before Christmas, but it's been a real problem since Easter. There were six incidents throughout the Easter holidays and its continuing now. It's becoming quite a concern."

Ms Dale-Smith said she started the petition to show SBC the strength of feeling on the matter.

Robert Staples, headteacher at the school, said: "We have been made aware of issues relating to anti-social behaviour taking place on the public footpath that separates the two sites of our primary school and have been working closely with Stevenage Borough Council to explore ways to improve the situation.

"The safety of children is our number one concern and we support any measures that can be implemented to ensure that children have safe routes to and from school at all times of day."

A spokesman for SBC said the council is aware of a "recurrent issue of anti-social behaviour" on the footpath and has been working closely with Mr Staples, residents, and the area committee to come up with a solution.

She said: "At the end of last year we reduced the size of the hedges which grow next to the fencing, to reduce any visual privacy the area affords. We will return and re-trim the hedges and remove any overhanging tree branches shortly.

"The longer term solution identified by the school is redirecting the footpath so the area is no longer open to the public. However, not all residents agree the footpath should be closed.

"There is a substantial amount of work involved, including consulting with residents and gaining planning consent, should a decision be made to proceed.

"Our street cleansing team will monitor the area and clean up any signs of anti-social behaviour."

Pc Nicola Hill, from the Stevenage Neighbourhood Team, said: "Whilst we continue to patrol the area we would urge people to call us on 0845 33 00 222 with any concerns they may have. Remember to dial 999 in an emergency or if you believe a crime is in progress.

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