Petition calls for removal of fence

Campaigners are continuing to battle for  removal of the fence at Stoke Lodge playing field.  

The land was registered as a Village Green in August, but Cotham School, which leases the site from Bristol City Council, says it is still considering challenging the decision by submitting a judicial review.

Meanwhile Bristol Boys FC say they have been told by Cotham School they can no longer use the playing field for matches from this month.  

On the club’s profile on social media site X (formerly Twitter) they are appealing for alternative grounds: Their post says: “Are there any teams out there that have a pitch to rent out to our team for the rest the season. Unfortunately Stoke Lodge have lost the ability for us to use their pitch. If there are any pitches or anyone hears of them going. Please let us know.”

Cotham School does not have its own playing fields, so pupils are bussed elsewhere – the school says games lessons cannot continue at Stoke Lodge now that the gates have to be left open, and so it is now using the Shine Sports ground at Golden Hill.

In a legal letter to the two main campaigners, Emma Burgess and Katherine Welham, solicitors acting for the school claim the fence installed by the school  in 2019 is not on the land designated as a Village Green.  And they say that as the gates are now open, it does not obstruct use of the fields by the public.

Campaigners for the We Love Stoke Lodge group are asking the council to enforce the removal of the fence, as they say it breaks a 150-year-old law that says it is illegal to fence a village green. They have collected 2,742 signatures on an online petition.

The school’s lawyers say prosecution of the school is not in the public interest while they are considering a legal challenge to the Village Green designation.

They have warned that the fence has been damaged in some places, and evidence of damage will be reported to the police.

WLSL called on the school to work with the local community over future use of the playing fields.  They also called on local people to join an event at Stoke Lodge to take part in a series of activities to produce a video to show the council how the fence is having an impact on public use of the playing field.

Cotham School did not respond to a request for comment.