Concerned parents and guardians have fumed at a local café that is located close to the Barony Campus building in Cumnock.

The campus houses pupils from Robert Burns Academy, Lochnorris Primary School, Cherrytrees Early Childhood Centre and Supported Learning Centre.

Pipers' Café originally opened in 2021, but due to restrictions in place, it opened to the wider public this week, sparking concerns that members of the public would be mixing in close proximity to pupils during the school day.

East Ayrshire Council has moved to ensure parents and guardians that the café is safe and nobody can directly access the schools from it.

Cumnock Chronicle: The café opened to the wider public this week.The café opened to the wider public this week. (Image: East Ayrshire Council)

A petition was launched online calling for the decision to be reversed, with parents saying that pupils often frequent this area of the building, whether that's during break and lunch times, or waiting to be picked up due to illness.

One worried mum said that the news that the café has been open to the public is something that many parents were unaware of, and that they weren't included in any form of consultation over the matter.

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The mum, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "I would like to hear what East Ayrshire Council has planned in order to safeguard our children.

"The café is open 8am until 3pm, core school hours.

"The reception that children go through in the morning to access the playground, to go to assembly, to go for lunch, to go to the gym and if they are unwell, this is where they wait unaccompanied for parents to come and collect them, sometimes for lengthy periods.

"The café is open-plan with the reception and uses the same set of doors and is not screened in any way to protect our children.

"East Ayrshire Council has just invited the general public into an area where our children should be safe."

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The mum added: "The staff in the school have to undergo PVG checks. However, any undesirable can go and sit and enjoy their coffee and cake whilst observing our children.

"A member of staff has actually contacted me in private. The staff are at times intimidated and feel uneasy with some of the customers who come in to use the service and that the school actually use the area to hold meetings with parents, and at times these can end in individuals becoming verbally hostile and using expletives."

An online petition, launched by Kerrie McGregor, has had 428 signatures so far from parents, guardians and agitated family members.

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Kerrie's petition adds: "[It's] Ludicrous to put anyone, whether it be a child or a staff member in a vulnerable position.

"This needs addressed as the staff at the school can only do their best by providing care to the kids.

"The policies about the correct uniform being worn seems to be more of an issue, telling pupils not to wear Lycra shorts as they aren’t appropriate, yet you could have anyone from the public sit in a café to groom your child".

Despite the anxiety from parents and guardians, East Ayrshire Council has said that members of the public using the café cannot access the wider building.

A council spokesperson said: "The Pipers’ Café within the Barony Campus was designed and built as a community café. The café was included in the extensive consultation process and is designed to offer food and drinks to the wider school community visiting the school.

"The café is at the front door of the campus, adjacent to a manned reception desk and normal school security arrangements mean that visitors do not have access to any of the schools.

"The café opened to the public in July 2021, however the restrictions introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic meant that we have worked with some restrictions, but is now fully open to the wider school community."

They continued: "Security issues have been considered with measures implemented to protect children and young people while maintaining a welcoming feel.

"The council would like to reassure parents and carers that access to the café has been fully considered by Facilities and Property Management, and Education Services and provides a positive addition to the campus."