9:32am Thursday 28th February 2013 in Letters
OPENNESS and transparency is what we were promised by this Labour led council, but openness and transparency is not what we have been given.
The recent behaviour of the Vale Council equates to nothing more than a total disregard for the residents of Gibbonsdown. I am of course referring to the treatment of the children of Oak Field Primary School, probably better known as Gibbonsdown School.
The Vale Council proposal to close this well loved tight-knit community school is nothing short of stupidity and ignorance. You really cannot help but feel that they are treating the people of Gibbonsdown as second rate citizens. On Thursday, February 21, a campaign meeting was held for crisis talks to discuss these closure proposals. MP Alun Cairns was present as was Independent councillor Robert Bertin and Jeff Heathfield of FocusBARRY, along with many concerned and upset and very angry parents. However, much to their dismay ward Cllr Rob Curtis was not present. He also happens to be one of the school governors, yet he did not show up even though he was invited and neither did Cllr Margaret Wilkinson. This is a very serious situation unfolding within their ward. We must also bring attention to the absence of Cllr Chris Elmore who also happens to be the Head of Education with the Vale of Glamorgan Council. It may also be of interest to people that Cllr Elmore was present at the Llancarfan and Llanfair Primary Schools meetings to reassure parents and staff that their schools will be not be closed. Maybe this is because when Cllr Elmore stands for MP at the next election he will be met with a hero’s welcome down there and the votes will no doubt be in the bag.
After several attempts, and what only can be described as begging him, has he finally succumbed and agreed to meet the parents of Oak Field to explain himself. Cllr Wilkinson and Cllr Curtis have yet to explain their absences – shame on them.
But the plot thickens even further as the Vale council will not explain it has apprently put a gagging order on the head teacher and the chairman of governors of Oak Field. This is a disgraceful act of a council with total disregard of the children, parents and staff who attend and work at this school. and of course let’s not forget the proposals for yet more homes being built on the White Farm development, where are these children going to be educated? This has clearly not been thought through, and remains a question that the Vale council cannot answer.
The closure of this school would be catastrophic to the people of Gibbonsdown. Over the years lifelong friendships have been forged on these school grounds, not to mention it being a central hub of the local community. It is home to roughly 100 pupils who are happy and content being there. To displace them and separate them would be very upsetting for them, to say the least, and I dare say could possibly affect their behaviour and future learning. Every child deserves the right to an education regardless, and that is where equality and fairness go hand in hand. But to deny the children of Oak Field Primary School an education within a safe and comfortable environment, which has been developed by the dedicated staff and parents, would be an absolute injustice and those responsible for this should hang their heads in shame and resign with immediate affect.
Shirley Hales (Parent) Dyfan Road Barry