03:38PM, Thursday 01 April 2021
A walker has hit out at Eton College’s ‘extreme’ decision to close Dorney Lake to the public until further notice.
The picturesque grounds have been a popular spot for visitors looking to get their daily exercise during the pandemic.
But the college has put up barriers and signs at the entrance to the privately owned site saying the venue is closed to the public due to ‘safety issues’.
Burnham resident Joy Morning said the decision has deprived people of an accessible place to get fresh air and enjoy themselves.
The 67-year-old told the Advertiser: “The thing that gets me is it’s a time when the Government, many of whom are ex-Etonians, are championing fighting child obesity and getting people to exercise.
“We’ve got one of the main areas which is easily accessible and a great access point for disabled people and that’s been closed down now for so many people.
“The only way in is through the narrow metal gates and they seem to be taking an extreme action.”
Dorney Lake temporarily closed in June last year when the venue became a hotspot for large gatherings and anti-social behaviour following the first national lockdown.
But avid jogger Joy called for Eton College to operate a one-in, one-out policy orreduce the site’s opening hours to manage visitor numbers rather than closing the venue entirely to the public.
She added: “This had Olympic funding for the lake and if you look at all the other venues that have had Olympic funding they have become community activity centres like in Stratford.
“I just feel quite indignant because this is a lovelypotential community space and in the past we’ve had people cycling, skateboarding and there’s tonnes of space between people.”
In response, a spokesman for Eton College said: “Due to repeated incidents of vandalism and anti-social behaviour we reluctantly had to close Dorney Lake to the public.
“This was done following consultation with the local community and with the support of Dorney Parish Council. “We are continually reviewing the situation and hope to open the lake when it is safe to do so.”
A new Christmas light trail will open up at Windsor Great Park in November run by the same events company behind Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.