The use of Rickmansworth Park

Up to date information on the use of Rickmansworth Park by Rickmansworth Park JMI School. Page last updated on 29/05/2024.

Update to statement (29/05/2024)

Three Rivers District Council is meeting next week with Hertfordshire County Council, the education authority, to try to mutually resolve the concerns Rickmansworth Park JMI School has raised regarding its daily use of Rickmansworth Park.

Update to statement (24/05/2024)

Three Rivers District Council is working closely with Hertfordshire County Council, the local education authority, to find a way forward.

Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst, Leader of Three Rivers District Council, said: “We continue to be keen, just as we have over the past year, to find a practical and positive resolution to this matter.”

Statement (23/05/2024)

Previously Rickmansworth Park JMI School used an area of Rickmansworth Park for its sports activities, without formal permission from the landowner (Three Rivers District Council). The council was aware of the use of the park for the school’s sports day and provided rough line painting each year. Rickmansworth Park is a public park and is open to the public, including the school, to access at any time.

In 2022 the council introduced an Alternative Grassland Management initiative for the benefit of biodiversity while balancing the need for public access to green spaces for recreational purposes. This means the grass in certain areas of the park is allowed to grow longer and is cut less often. In 2023 the council agreed, in response to a request from the school, to be flexible and cut the grass shorter in the park to enable the school to make use of their preferred location in the park for its sports day.

As a flexible and proactive local authority, the council has this year further agreed to make additional changes and amends to the grass cutting regime so that the school can make use of a specific area of the park, as defined by them, for its regular sporting activities and after school clubs. As it has done previously, the council has committed to continuing to paint lines on the grass for the school’s sports day on a separate area of this public park.

As a responsible landowner the council has a formal hire of grounds policy that is used where individuals, groups, organisations (including charities, schools and others) as well as private businesses wish to have dedicated access to and use of its publicly funded and maintained grounds.

It is under this policy that the specific arrangements requested by the school, being different from the normal day to day management of the site by the council, have been agreed, the council believed amicably, as they would be with any other user. This agreement includes a nominal charge in contribution to the additional maintenance of the grounds that is required to meet the school’s request.

Rickmansworth Park is a public park, not a school playing field. The council is however content to permit the school to use the land providing the usual hire of grounds rules are followed. This will also ensure the area of land is available for the school to use regularly and not hired to anyone else.

It is therefore surprising that, having willingly entered into this agreement, that the school has chosen to publicly, unfairly and with misinformation, attack the council. Three Rivers District Council is not the local education authority – but it remains open and willing to help the school, however it cannot subsidise its sporting activities.