Alphington Grammar will seek legal options within the council for the removal of the school gate

Despite the Alphington Grammar School community rallying Tuesday morning to convince the town of Yarra that the school needed a gateway for the protection of its students, the board followed through on the ultimatum and withdrew the wear the same evening.

The council said the school gate is blocking community access to Darebin Creek public land and must be removed, saying it was erected illegally.

Alphington Grammar director Dr Vivianne Nikou had argued that the barrier had been in place for 70 years (two schools had operated before Alphington Grammar), and she only replaced the barrier when it became a hazard for everyone’s safety.

At the council meeting that decided to remove the barrier, no risk assessment was presented for consideration, but some councilors argued that the opening of the road should be done with student safety in mind.

Neos Cosmos asked Yarra Town Mayor Sophie Wade if they had any concerns about student safety now that the gate has been removed.

“I’m sure the school has a lot of options, they could fence off their private grounds. There are lots of schools across Melbourne that have similar issues, they have roads, footpaths that run through their schools,” the mayor said.

The mayor was told that the dead end of the Old Heidelberg road runs right through the middle of the school with children as young as five, crossing from side to side, and it would be quite a difficult task to separate the two parts of the school when they have so many common spaces.

In response, the mayor said: “There are still options available to the school if they wish to pursue them, we already had a major consultation program last year which the school participated in, and we received over 340 submissions from community members who wanted access restored. I think it’s important to understand that the community used to have access to the creek. Only recently has it been blocked on weekends and after hours. So I think it’s important to remember that it’s not new and most people used it before. And they just want to be able to do it again, because it’s public land.” She added that she herself had taken this route as a child, to get to Alphington Primary, when there was still a bridge.

More than 2,500 people have so far signed the petition to overturn the Board’s decision and keep the gate to “protect the pupils and staff of Alphington Grammar School”.

Commenting on the petition’s website, Alphington Grammar’s facilities manager said: “I have lost count of the number of times I have been called upon to remove undesirables who had access to this private property. The existing pedestrian and vehicular barriers have helped to reduce this problem considerably, they must remain intact for the well-being of the students. »

Hundreds of people contacted the school, sent emails and signed the petition, said school principal Dr. Vivianne Nikou. Neos Cosmos adding that she is convinced that common sense prevails in the community.

On Wednesday, the day after the barrier was removed, a member of the public came with their own equipment to remove the pedestrian barrier near the Early Learning Centre. “He knocked down the door shouting insults at the staff and threatening to come back,” Dr Nikou said. “It was very, very confronting. It was upsetting for the students that were here, the staff, we were begging him not to do this in front of the kids and scare everyone and he kept abusing us .

The day after the barrier was removed, a member of the public came with their own equipment to remove the pedestrian barrier near the Early Learning Centre. Photo: Supplied

The school has hired security guards to work around the clock to help keep children safe, the principal added.

“For many months we worked to identify the parameters of the old road to Heidelberg and the school property. But all these things take time. The Yarra council was not ready to give us the The architects are on board, but first you need to know where the road is, to figure out how to section off and protect the children. Dr. Nikou explained that they weren’t allowed to put up temporary fencing,” we will therefore continue through the legal channels and the appropriate channels”.

The board has had regular conversations with the school since last October, according to Mayor Wade, and issued a number of letters and also met with the school principal last December to try to resolve the issue.

“We are always happy to talk to the school anytime. But I think there was a clear resolution and a clear decision from the community that they want access. And so I think that piece is clear,” Mayor Wade said. Neos Cosmos. “I hope the school will continue to talk to us. We can hopefully provide an option, but I think the ball is in their court at the moment.

The Greek community of Melbourne, as owners of the land, will take up the matter legally and seek an injunction for action from the council.

To learn more about the petition titled “Protect the Students and Staff of Alphington High School”, visit www.change.org/p/protect-the-students-and-staff-of-alphington-grammar-school

To read the statement from Yarra Council released on Wednesday visit: www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/news/2022/05/25/statement-on-the-removal-of-the-gate-at-alphington-grammar -school

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