Council pledge action following closed footpath outrage

Councillor John Cook standing at the fencing closing off the footpath next to St Helen's Church

Councillor John Cook said he told Suffolk County Council the footway could reopen on March 10 - Credit: John Cook

A footpath used regularly to access an Ipswich primary school is still closed off - despite the county council being told it's ready to reopen. 

Access to the school lane from St Helen's Street is still closed off after the recent storms caused damage to the church

But despite the churchwarden making contact with Suffolk Highways five times last week - with an official report, three phone calls and an email - the fencing remains. 

The Ipswich Star has approached Suffolk Highways about the closure and a spokesman confirmed that the team would be attending to clear the fencing by the end of this week.

The delay has inconvenienced parents and staff at the school. 

The lane cuts from St Helen's Street to Woodbridge Road and provides a second route to and from St Helen's Primary School. 

Without it, all foot traffic has to leave via Woodbridge Road, leading to safety concerns.

After being approached by the Ipswich Star, Councillor John Cook, who represents the Alexandra ward, said: "It's outrageous that it's still closed off. 

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"It was right and proper that the alleyway was closed while any assessments and work were done, but to hear that Suffolk County Council has been informed no less than five times that the route is now safe is not acceptable. 

"We just need the county to get its act together and come and move the fencing. 

"I hoped that when I reported it on Thursday it would have been done Friday, so that it would be open for families returning to school this week. 

"It needs to be opened, and the sooner the better."

The footpath connecting Woodbridge Road and St Helen's Street in Ipswich has been closed

The footpath connecting Woodbridge Road and St Helen's Street in Ipswich has been closed - Credit: Google Maps

Kate Hodgetts, headteacher at St Helens, said that parents were resilient but that communication from the council hadn't been ideal. 

She said: "The lane was originally closed and temporary signs put up to block the alley; some parents moved these to get through so they replaced them with more sturdy ones. 

"We had 420 children and parents accessing the school via the one entrance to the lane as both of our playground entrances are off this lane.  

"This was not ideal - more parents were using cars as they had longer journeys causing issues near Lacey Street especially whilst roadworks were ongoing. 

"At one point the roadworks team tried to block the top not knowing the bottom of the lane was closed, until we interjected. 

"The church has been good and notified us last week that the scaffolding was coming down and they had notified the council, unfortunately we still had the barriers up this morning. 

"The lane is often forgotten, signs not put up to inform parents, constant litter and fouling - it is not properly maintained on the whole but is the only right of way for the school. Parents are resilient but better communication would have been good."

Is there an issue in your community you would like the Ipswich Star to investigate? Email suffolk.editors@archant.co.uk