ANGRY residents in West Rounton, near Northallerton, say a fence is putting children's safety at risk.

They are furious over the development near a new housing estate and claim the district council is 'burying its head in the sand'.

Parish councillors are calling for action to remove the fence, which cuts the estate off from the village green and means children from the new homes have to cross the main road to get to the school bus stop.

Householders on White House Farm estate also fear the fence, which is on land owned by the Elstob family, will cut them off from the rest of the village.

Rountons Parish Council chairman, Coun Derek Lawton, said a link between public open space and the village green was shown on plans for the development.

"This was to ensure children from the estate could walk through to get the bus at the green," he said. "But now a fence has been put up and this has blocked off the access."

The council has told the planning authority - Hambleton District Council - about the problem, but Hambleton says the fence is outside the application site.

At a recent meeting of the parish council, parents turned up to complain. "They had a real go at us," said Coun Lawton. "But this is a matter of safety. People from the estate now have to cross the main road, walk up the village and cross again to get the bus. The link was to prevent all that."

White House Farm resident Liz Huckle said, at the time of buying the house, her family was led to believe there would be a play area with a snicket to the green.

"It is a real blow for us. Many village children live round the green and we thought our youngsters would be able to play with them but without the snicket it is not so easy."

Maurice Cann, Hambleton Council's head of development control, said: "The fence is outside the application site for the estate. It is on private land and the owner has a right to erect a fence or a wall. There is no right of way formally between the new estate and the village.

"We have suggested they talk to the landowner and see if there is an amicable way forward."

Coun Lawton insisted the opening had been defined. "We have documentary proof," he said. "The council has blundered and is burying its head in the sand.

"The landowner has refused to take the fence down even though we pleaded to at least have a gate to let children through."

Family spokesman Geoffrey Elstob declined to comment.