CONFUSION surrounds the future of three Vale schools earmarked for closure - after politicians appeared to make conflicting statements.
Barry’s Oak Field and Llanfair and Llancarfan primary schools were believed to be under threat - following information leaked to the Barry & District News - and subject to a Vale of Glamorgan council cabinet report due to be discussed on March 4.
Vale Council cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr Chris Elmore told Llancarfan campaigners he is recommending the school stays open.
In a statement issued to the media, Cllr Elmore said the March 4 report included a number of proposals for changes to how primary schools were organised in the Vale.
He said: “The report was confidential because its recommendations were simply proposals and contained information that could give unnecessary concern to those who might be affected.
“Whether to accept the report’s recommendations will be a matter for the cabinet to decide and any decision made by the cabinet will then be subject to extensive public consultation before final decisions are made.
“As cabinet member for children’s services, I’m quite clear that I wouldn’t agree to the closure of either Llancarfan or Llanfair school.
“The report contains many other proposals and the full report will be available on the council’s website next week.
“Cabinet will then decide which, if any, of the recommendations it thinks are right for our school system.
“I’m sorry that opponents of the council’s cabinet have sought to make political capital out of the report.”
The chairwoman of Llancarfan governors Jill Davies said: “Representatives of the school are delighted to have Cllr Elmore’s support, and to know that the hard work and significant achievements that the school’s made have been recognised.”
In a press statement, Vale AM Jane Hutt said: “I agree fully with Cllr Chris Elmore, who’s decided not to accept proposals put forward by the education and lifelong learning scrutiny committee, to close Llancarfan and Llanfair schools.
“These schools are providing good and effective education in their communities in the rural Vale.
“I’d like to thank all those who’ve contacted me with their views which I’ve shared with the Vale of Glamorgan Council.”
But on Llancarfan’s Facebook group, Ms Hutt is said to have written and told school supporters: “I am delighted that the cabinet of the Vale of Glamorgan Council has decided not to accept proposals put forward by the Education and Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee, to close Llancarfan and Llanfair Schools.”
Vale MP Alun Cairns said that he had attended campaign meetings with parents and governors at both Llancarfan and Llanfair primary schools and he was pleased to hear the cabinet member responsible for education backing down from the proposed closure of both rural schools.
“However I am disappointed that he hasn’t confirmed his views regarding the future of Oakfield Primary in Gibbonsdown,” he said.
“I hope that he’ll give equal priority to the Barry primary school.
“The silence regarding Oakfield is causing many parents and children a great deal of worry.
“I strongly believe that the same respect and priority should be given as shown with the other two schools.
“I have no doubt that the decision is based on the amount of campaigning and co-ordinated activity that the other two schools have arranged so far.”
He said he would attend Oak Field’s parents and governors meeting tonight. (February 21).
He added: “I’ve no doubt – from correspondence that I have already received from worried parents in Barry – that there will a strong campaign against the proposed closure of this school which is at the heart of the community in Gibbonsdown.
“To guarantee the long-term future of these schools, we need to see a list of formal reasons why the proposals are being rejected by the council.
“This will be vital evidence should they change their mind again regarding school closures in a year or two’s time.”
Vale AM Jane Hutt’s office had not responded to the Barry & District News’ Facebook statement enquiry by the time of going to press.
Llancarfan supporters are now planning to stage a demonstration at the Civic Offices in Holton Road, Barry, before the cabinet hols its meeting at 2pm on Monday, March 4.
To support the Llancarfan campaign, go online and like its Facebook page.
AM in call for promises be kept
SOUTH Wales Central and Vale AM, Andrew RT Davies has called for the resignation of a Vale council cabinet member, should promises not be kept regarding school futures.
He welcomed Cllr Chris Elmore’s decision to clarify his own position, but said: “I note that his statement refers to cabinet responsibility for this decision and that he refuses to explicitly rule out a closure by the Vale council following a vote in cabinet.
“Given the fact that he has published his own views so unequivocally, it would certainly make his position untenable if the cabinet were to proceed against his wishes and vote to close either school.
“I would call on Councillor Elmore to confirm that if the cabinet were to overrule him and close either school this would be a matter of resignation.”
Mr Davies said he had also raised the issue in the National Assembly with Leader of the House, Jane Hutt AM, where he raised the school’s closure this afternoon.
He said: “I raised this matter in plenary on Tuesday afternoon with the Leader of the House, Jane Hutt, and she also refused to rule out a cabinet decision to close either school.
“What concerns me is the coded language being used by Labour politicians and a flat refusal by any to rule out closure by the Vale of Glamorgan Council.
“Until that clarity is forthcoming I will not be resting in my efforts to ensure that the views of parents, teachers and governors are heard.”