Portsmouth school field closed to pupils in soil contamination alert

Mayfield School fields in North End
Mayfield School fields in North End

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A school has been forced to close its field due to high levels of contamination.

Hundreds of letters have been sent out to parents and local residents near to Mayfield School in North End, Portsmouth warning them to stay away, after soil samples showed contamination.

One parent has even taken his son out of the school because he fears it’s too dangerous.

But Mayfield’s headteacher has insisted it poses no immediate health risk and that access has been restricted as a precautionary measure.

Peter Brown, 42, from Chichester Road, sends his 12-year-old son Owen to the school.

Mr Brown said: ‘I phoned the school. They don’t know what it is. It’s being tested.

‘If they don’t know what it is how do they know it’s safe for the children? I have taken my boy out of school.

‘I’m a little bit shocked that they’ve sent a letter out saying they don’t know what it is. How can they tell me it’s safe?

‘They have blocked the whole field off. No-one is allowed near the field.

‘My boy isn’t going back to the school until they know what it is.’

The contamination was found as part of the development of an all-through school on the site, which is due to open in September.

David Jeapes, headteacher at Mayfield School, said: ‘We had a meeting with Portsmouth City Council. Their protocol is to assume the worst and take precautions so we have cut access to areas.

‘Given we have got quite a large school site, it’s something we can relatively easily accommodate.

‘Whenever you embark on building projects there is always an initial assessment. This is one of them – we always take soil samples. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to believe that there’s any risk to health.’

Mr Jeapes has reassured people not to be concerned.

‘I can understand people’s concerns because the word contamination sounds dreadful but we are being very cautious.

‘I would like to reassure pupils, staff and the wider community there is no indication that there is anything dangerous to health, but while the tests go on, we will follow the council’s procedure.

‘We are going to take a hard-lined approach to this and work closely with any families who are concerned to reassure them that there is no health risk and try to get children back to school as soon as possible.’

Tests are due back tomorrow.