Education centre closure rumours quashed

Barry And District News: PALMERSTON: MP Alun Cairns and protestors outside the education centre PALMERSTON: MP Alun Cairns and protestors outside the education centre

CONFUSION erupted into a political spat at a protest into the rumoured closure of a Barry education centre.

Rumours have circulated that Palmerston Education Centre was set to close with the site possibly being earmarked for use as a Pupil Referral Unit.

Scores of angry people took to the streets on Saturday, May 3 in opposition to the rumoured plans, with MP Alun Cairns joining them.

Vale council leader Neil Moore decided to attend the meeting and was accused of contradicting previous statements by an education department in "complete chaos and confusion".

Councillor Moore has said that the public had been "misled" into believing Palmerston would be closing and fired back at Mr Cairns, who he said had issued "inaccurate accusations" and caused "undue worry".

At the centre of the closure speculation was the belief that staff had been told to stop registering people on new courses for next year, fuelling fears that the facility would no longer be running classes in 2014/15.

Councillor More said this was "completely false", adding: "It is regrettable that some staff may have been misled about the future of the centre, but the fact of the matter is that it will not be closing.

"The situation is that the educational programme at Palmerston is currently being reviewed in line with Estyn requirements and a number of new courses are being developed for the 2014/15 academic year.

"The reason that early registrations are not being accepted currently is because this year’s new programme is still being finalised. The official registration period for enrolment will open at the end of June as it does every year."

Mr Cairns said that this misunderstanding highlighted a department in confusion.

"Councillor Moore’s comments seemed to suggest that there was complete chaos and confusion in the department as he contradicted statements made by local government officials" he said.

“If the authority does u-turn on this is shows that the peoples voice has been listened to. However I still remained concerned that the statements made by the leader of the council outside the building contradict statements he had made to local residents when they sought his help as their local councillor."

Councillor Moore said that far from being a "u-turn" decision, Palmerston was never due to close.

He said: "The Vale of Glamorgan Council had considered changes to the use of all of its educational buildings as part of a wider review to ensure it was making the best use of its facilities.

"However, any possible changes to the use of Palmerston Community Learning Centre had been discounted several weeks ago.

"Palmerston Community Learning Centre is not closing and will continue to provide high quality adult education courses as it has done for many years.

“I trust that this will clear up the unfounded rumours and confirm that Palmerston Community Learning Centre will remain as it is - a community facility.

"I would ask Mr Cairns that in the future he should get his facts right before, once again issuing misleading and inaccurate accusations against the Vale of Glamorgan Council and causing undue worry to local residents."

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