MS slams Council’s ‘undemocratic’ school closure decision
Plaid Cymru Member of Senedd for South Wales West, Sioned Williams, has slammed Neath Port Talbot Council’s “undemocratic” decision to close three primary schools despite “overwhelming local opposition” to the plans.
At a meeting of the Council cabinet today (20th October), NPT Council Cabinet voted in favour of closing Alltwen, Godre'rgraig and Llangiwg primary schools in the Swansea Valley, none of which are either small or failing, and to establish an English-medium ‘super’ 3-11 school in Pontardawe in their place.
Sioned Williams expressed her “grave concerns” about the way in which the decision was made, its potential negative effects on the community, as well as its detrimental effect on the Welsh language.
Sioned Williams said:
“I am deeply disappointed by NPT Council Cabinet’s decision to undermine local education in the Swansea Valley.
“The vast majority of parents and residents who have contacted me about the proposals believe that their children’s education would be best served in maintaining a link between the schools and their communities rather than develop such a huge primary school on a centralised site. The loss of playing fields, the negative impact on active travel, traffic congestion and air quality were also raised as concerns. Consultation is at the heart of democracy. The message from Swansea Valley residents was clear: they do not approve of these plans. NPT Labour Council should not impose this plan from above - a plan not developed in partnership nor with the support of the community. To plough ahead with this decision is utterly undemocratic and quite frankly shameful.”
“Concerns that the Council has not sufficiently considered the impact of the plan on the Welsh language led to the Welsh Government commissioning a report and pausing the process. That report identifies significant harmful effects to the Welsh language from this proposal. The report has not yet been made fully public, and I believe it is premature for the local authority to reach a decision before such a crucial document is made fully accessible to local elected representatives and residents.
“Not only this, but there is no evidence in the report of any attempt to agree a business case with the Welsh Government to improve the existing schools, or build a new school in the furthest village of Godre’rgraig if necessary – something that would be possible under the 21st Century Schools scheme.”
“This decision today is bad news for pupils, parents, local education, the local community and the future of the Welsh language.”
Sioned Williams MS had previously written to NPT Council’s Director of Education, Leisure and Lifelong Learning, Andrew Thomas, expressing concerns regarding the Council’s proposals.
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