A ROSSENDALE primary school at the centre of a five-year row over a public right of way after putting up a fence will find out in the New Year if it is in the wrong.

The row over access rights around Helmshore Primary School led to a public inquiry being called.

Bosses at the school put up a fence around the perimeter of the school's playing fields after having problems with dog mess and broken glass.

The fencing blocked access to public footpaths regularly used by local dog walkers which caused friction with local residents.

They argued that villagers had had a right of way on the site at Gregory Fold for more than 70 years.

Lancashire County Council, which owns the land, erected the fencing without permission but after a 900-signature petition was presented to them, county council bosses were forced to apply for retrospective planning permission from their own committee.

This application was subsequently withdrawn after the school reduced the fence to two metres, a height permitted under development rights.

However, a public inquiry into access rights around the school was opened in June and has just ended after a three month adjournment.

Villagers will now find out whether they have won their case when the Secretary of State publishes his decision which is expected in around three months time.

Keith Pilkington, of the Helmshore Action Group, said: “All our witnesses did everything they could to get our point over.”