NATO summit school concerns - "bonkers" or "Tory tantrum"?

NATO summit school concerns - "bonkers" or "Tory tantrum"?

SUMMIT: The Celtic Manor Resort, Newport

CABINET: Councillor Chris Elmore

ASSEMBLY MEMBER: Andrew RT Davies

First published in News by

THE decision to alter school opening hours in the Vale during the Newport NATO summit has sparked further controversy with Regional AM Andrew RT Davies calling it "bonkers".

In response to criticism from Mr Davies and his Conservative colleague MP Alun Cairns, Councillor Chris Elmore says it is a "Tory tantrum" that is becoming "farcical".

During the NATO summit, taking place next month at the Celtic Manor resort in Newport, schools in Barry and the Vale of Glamorgan will be closing at 2pm on Wednesday, September 3 and Friday, September 5 and opening at 11am on Thursday, September 4 to avoid congestion around Cardiff Airport, Rhoose.

Both Mr Davies and his Conservative colleague MP Alun Cairns have labelled the decision unnecessary and hit out at the disruption it will cause to schoolchildren during what will be their return from their summer break.

Mr Cairns said that he had been contacted by "scores" of parents, angry that while many schools in Cardiff and Newport were remaining open, schools across Barry were altering their hours.

Following Mr Cairns' comments, leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies said: "This is another horrible misjudgement by the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Chris Elmore.

“The ramifications of these early closures will wreak havoc to parents and employers, many of whom will be disrupted as they will have to take time off work.

“From the information I have received, only a limited number of delegates will be using Cardiff Airport as a point of access for the summit and as Wales Office Minister and Vale MP Alun Cairns has made abundantly clear, this decision far exceeds the advice issued by the NATO planning unit.”

In response Councillor Chris Elmore, Cabinet member for Children's Services, said: "This Tory tantrum is becoming completely farcical and is clearly nothing to do with advice that has been given to schools following a meeting between the local police, some head teachers and a council officer.

"It is yet again more petty political point scoring by a party hell-bent on personal attacks and ignoring facts."

Cllr Elmore then explained that on July 11 at Barry Police Station a discussion between police officers and headteachers took place with three options being discussed.

"Two involved total closure of schools," Cllr Elmore said. "That was deemed unacceptable, so the option of closing an hour earlier on two days and opening two hours later on one day was agreed. This advice was then sent to schools.

"It's rather concerning that Mr Davies appears to be suggesting that those headteachers who attended the meeting should not have listened to the concerns and advice given while discussing the issue with the police, although this isn't surprising as political point scoring tends to be Mr Davies priority as opposed to ensuring the NATO conference is a success.

"To be clear no Vale of Glamorgan School is closing completely, unlike some schools in Cardiff and many schools in Newport.

"We have ensured every pupil will be able to attend school during the conference and I look forward to it being a great event highlighting the best of what Wales has to offer, I can only hope local Conservatives do the same."

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