Sioned Williams echoes local residents’ opposition at plans to close local primary schools during public meeting.
Plaid Cymru Member of Senedd, Sioned Williams has today repeated her calls on NPT Council to axe controversial plans to close Alltwen, Llangiwg and Godre’r-graig primary schools, following a public meeting held by Neath Port Talbot Council last night.
The South Wales West MS drew attention to the “overwhelming” strength of feeling that parents, teachers and residents demonstrated in opposing the proposals, which would replace the three primary schools with a single, English-medium 3-11 ‘super-school’ in Pontardawe.
Campaigners against the plans have long argued that the plans are unsuitable and damaging to both education and community life, and would also have a negative effect on the Welsh language in the Swansea Valley.
Commenting on last night’s public meeting, Sioned Williams today said:
“It was clear from the huge number of concerns raised in the meeting that there is overwhelming local opposition to these plans. The Council should reject these plans outright and explore different options for each school for new or upgraded school buildings, working with, rather than against parents, governors, and local residents.
“The new Rainbow Coalition in the Council inherited this situation from the previous Labour administration, and deserve credit for properly engaging with the public, unlike the previous Labour administration.
“But the answers given by officers in the meeting were vague – for example on the additional costs which the plans would create, such as extra school transport and highways work to accommodate the new school. This is an ill-thought out and inappropriate plan.
“I would urge all local residents to make their voices heard by filling in the new consultation to oppose the plans to shut Swansea Valley schools.”
The proposals were originally passed by the previous Labour-controlled NPT Council, although of 234 responses to the original consultation, only 21 were in favour of the plans. An online petition against the proposals was also signed by 413 people.
The new Rainbow Coalition committed to halt the proposals when it took over the leadership of the Council in 2022 to ensure that the community’s voice would be heard.
The previous NPT Council Labour Cabinet decision to go ahead with the plan was challenged by a Judicial Review which found the previous consultation to be unlawful.
Speaking during last night’s public meeting, Sioned Williams specifically pointed to the way the plans would impact on accessibility of nursery provision and the loss of the ability to walk or bike to school, and to before and after school activities, in line with national policy aims regarding active travel.
Many parents spoke of their concerns about the size of the school which one parent suggested would be the largest of its kind in Wales, and members of the community asked how building on playing fields and contributing to already high levels of traffic congestion and air pollution was in line with the aims of the Future Generations Act.
The consultation closes on 7th February.
Link to consultation document: https://www.npt.gov.uk/media/18283/consultation_document.pdf?v=20221205082948
Consultation responses can also be submitted using the consultation portal on the Council’s web site (https://wh.snapsurveys.com/s.asp?k=166990867157), by emailing [email protected], or by writing to Andrew Thomas, Director of Education Leisure and Lifelong Learning, (marked for the attention of the SSIP Team), Civic Centre, Port Talbot SA13 1PJ