Alphington Grammar school races to overturn Yarra Council’s gate removal demand


Parents and students of Alphington Grammar School in Melbourne’s inner north will hold a protest outside school gates this morning in defiance of Yarra City Council’s demand to permanently open its front gates to the public.

The Council has given the school a Tuesday deadline to remove the fence and gates across the main entrance to the school to provide public access to Darebin Creek.

The Council plans to reopen Old Heidelberg Road, a dead-end street that runs through the grounds of Alphington Grammar School, following a unanimous council vote last year to do so.

The Council wants the school to open its front gates to the public.

If the School fails to remove the gates, the Council will remove them and send the school the bill, The Age reports.

This is despite the School rejecting the idea as unsafe and “impossible to achieve without trespassing onto Alphington Grammar School property.”

“The removal of these gates puts the safety of our students, teachers and staff at risk by allowing members of the public to access school property and give those with ill intentions against children the opportunity and means to do harm,” the School said in a post on Facebook.

“In particular, the Council’s decision will place the youngest and most vulnerable members of our community directly in harm’s way.”

Some members of the public disagree with this sentiment and argue a private entity such as a non-government school should not be permitted to take public land for its own exclusive use.

“I’m pushing officers to forcibly open the gate, as they would if an individual blocked it,” one member of the public wrote on Facebook. “Private interests blocking public access to a public path to public land can’t be condoned.”

The Yarra Mayor, Sophie Wade, also said on Monday that “the gates at Alphington Grammar School were installed illegally and currently block community access to public land.”

Alphington Grammar School principal Dr Vivianne Nikou stands with students Miles, Isabella, Zoe, Ethan and Nikoletta at the school gates. Credit: Chris Hopkins.

Despite this criticism, School Principal, Dr Vivianne Nikou, continues to urge the community to rally against “a group of vocal local residents who wish to have public access to Darebin Creek via Old Heidelberg Road.”

A petition started a few days ago from the school community has already gathered more than 1,300 signatures.

“This is a matter the school cannot address alone. It needs the voice of our school community,” Dr Nikou said.

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