Important letter concerning The Meads
Dear Swiss Parents
This might be one of the most important letters we have written to you.
A letter that we believe could have a major and direct positive impact on the health, safety, health and wellbeing of our 400+ current pupils, and thousands of future pupils.
As you know, we secured money for an all-weather surface in our section of the Meads 5 years ago to help alleviate our chronic lack of play space, especially when the Meads is out of action for many months of the year.
The Governors, leadership, and staff all believe this is a once in a lifetime chance to make a dramatic difference to the quality of experience of our children. We have explored every avenue and alternative solution to the problem, but keep coming back to the same answer.
We have been told by the council’s parks department that even with improved drainage and a relaid grass pitch, the best usage we could expect is 80% of the year. That means the school’s area of the Meads would still be unusable for 20% of the year, (30% of the school year). This is only a marginal gain on the current situation. And we have been told to expect the new grass surface to not last very long with our level of use/need, leaving us back to square one. It is crystal clear to us that another grass route simply does not meet the current and future needs of the school or our kids, or is a good use of money.
If you wanted to think of a comparison, think of a Premier League pitch. It will have the best grass, and the best maintenance regime possible. Far higher than we or the council could ever manage. Yet even they will limit playing on that surface to maybe a couple of games or 3-4 hours per week. And they will lay a new pitch every year.
We simply don’t have that luxury. Our staff and kids want and need to use the space all day every day.
Even the Wembley pitch our heros are playing on is an all weather hybrid – so that it can be used more often, and lasts longer. That’s what we want to do. Use the Meads more often.
If you want to see what everyday use on grass looks like you only need to look at St Mary’s Garden and see what just one class who were kept in their bubble during the pandemic does to the surface. It makes it unusable. Now imagine x10 that number of pupils on grass every day.
When the grass on the Meads is out of use, which we believe it will be even with new drainage and new grass, (just ask any groundsman), that means our kids playing football, hockey, rounders, or just running and jumping on the concrete playgrounds. We think that’s totally unacceptable especially when we have a solution at hand. We believe the choice is not grass or all-weather, it’s all-weather or concrete.
We have the smallest amount of play space per child of any school in Shoreham by a factor of many times. Our teachers have to go out before any use of the Meads and check for glass and dog poo. Again we think this is totally unacceptable when we have the money for a solution.
There has been a vociferous and very loud campaign against our plans launched by people who live near the Meads. We understand their concerns but feel we have explored and satisfied all of them. (See key ones below)
However, we now think their voice is being heard louder than the needs of our kids. And to be frank, we believe that puts the whole project, the money, and six years of work at risk.
This really is the last chance saloon and a once in a lifetime chance to make things right.
We need the whole of the school community that supports the project to be heard.
Not just each household, but each parent, child, granny, neighbour. Anyone who lives in, is part of, or connected to our community and supports our needs.
And we need it quickly – like this week quickly.
Please show your support using this link, and share with anyone you know who would support us.
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Swiss Gardens Governors & Staff
PS We know there are a few of you who don’t like the idea, and that’s fine. We respect that and know that your voice has been well recorded and heard elsewhere. This is about recording the support for the scheme within the schools extended community.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some people have asked us if an all-weather pitch will increase the risk of flooding. Adur Engineers have looked at this and confirmed there is no increased flood risk. Indeed Lancing College has an all-weather pitch on exactly the same flood risk profile and it has never flooded.
Might this lead to further development / building on the Meads?
Some concerns have been expressed that having an all-weather surface now will make it easier for the Meads to be built on in the future. The council have given us written assurances that it is a protected open space and will remain so.
It goes without saying that child safety is our number one priority. There are many different kinds of all-weather surfaces, sand-based (as used at Findon Vale Primary), rubber-based (as used at Sir Robert Woodard), and even organic materials based surfaces. We have not decided on the best option, but needless to say, it will be the safest option that best meets our needs. Most pitches these days are recycled, and we do not expect any problems replacing the surface when it reaches the end of the lifecycle.