Plaid Cymru MS Sioned Williams has called on Neath Port Talbot Council’s Labour Cabinet to save 3 Swansea valley schools from closure.
The Labour Cabinet will discuss this Wednesday (June 16th 2021) a proposal to establish a new ‘super’ English-medium primary school in Pontardawe, to replace Alltwen, Godre'rgraig and Llangiwg Prmary Schools - all of which will close on 31st August 2024 if the Cabinet decides to back the plans.
Sioned Williams MS, who has long campaigned against the closure of the 3 schools has now written formally to the Council in a last ditch attempt to save the schools ahead of Wednesday’s meeting.
Sioned Williams stated:
“It is completely clear from the consultation report being presented to Neath Port Talbot’s Labour Cabinet on Wednesday that there is very little support for the new super primary school in the community it is meant to serve.
“The report shows quite clearly that of the 234 responses received to the Council’s consultation, only 21 were in favour of this proposal. In addition, 413 people signed an online petition against the plans.
“The message from the residents of the Swansea Valley is clear: we do not approve of these plans.
“It is imperative therefore that the Labour Council do not try to impose this plan on residents from above, a plan that has not been developed in partnership nor with the support of the community, and consulted upon during such an extraordinary time of national emergency.
“I would urge the council to seek more appropriate answers to the questions the consultation raised, and that they are purely educational in focus. I am particularly concerned that the consultation report suggests that the funding available under the 21st Century Schools programme would be unlikely to be approved for “patch and mend” of the existing school sites, although this is what happened in the case of Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera’s secondary provision. The Welsh Government’s own 21st century schools strategy sets out clearly that refurbishment of schools is an option, and I believe that this needs to be explored further by Neath Port Talbot in this instance.”
The Plaid MS has also raised concerns regarding the role of the former Leader of Council, Rob Jones, in the development of the plans, stating:
“The consultation period closed before the recording of the former council leader Rob Jones came to light and thus the report does nothing to address the deep local concerns regarding the role of Cllr Rob Jones in the development of these plans. Given the comments allegedly made by Cllr Jones pronouncing his support for super schools, many residents feel that the consultation process was not meaningful.
“Given these circumstances, and to ensure complete transparency and an appropriate level of engagement, I have asked the council to consider starting the whole process anew, with direct input into any plans as to the future of primary education in the Swansea Valley from each of the schools from the outset - an honest and open discussion as to the different options available for each individual school, followed by a more meaningful consultation process - which would now be possible as the Covid restrictions are easing.”