Misleading letters

First published in Letters

I FEEL I must respond to the misleading letters from Richard Bertin and Alun Cairns regarding the Scrutiny Committee Report on Schools in the Vale of Glamorgan.

They are clearly keen to play politics with an obsolete report, which was rejected by the Cabinet over six months ago.

I would like to give some facts, as opposed to the scaremongering which Mr Bertin and Mr Cairns seem to relish, which only causes concern for parents, staff and most importantly pupils.

Fact 1: The report was produced by the Scrutiny Committee, Lifelong Learning, led and chaired by Cllr Nic Hodges. For the avoidance of doubt, at no point did a member of the Vale Cabinet take part in the working group that developed/wrote the report.

Fact 2: The working group was cross party and included ‘Independent’ councillors.

Fact 3: Scrutiny Committees can compile reports and make recommendations to Cabinet (as they did on this occasion), but they are not the decision makers. Only Cabinet or Council can make decisions and in this case the Cabinet rejected the report several months ago as reported widely in the press.

Fact 4: The report was not kept under part two or 'secret' by the Vale Labour-Llantwit First Cabinet, but instead by the Scrutiny Committee. I would like to make it clear at no point did I or any other member of the Cabinet agree to the report being kept in part two (secret), as it wasn’t our report, it was the Scrutiny Committee’s Report.

Fact 5: Any explanation as to why the Scrutiny Committee made those recommendations would need to be explained by its Chair, Cllr Nic Hodges. As the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services I cannot explain a report that I had no part in developing or writing.

Fact 6: It is a shame Richard Bertin has chosen to mislead the public suggesting ‘What’s next?’ If he had bothered to read the various Cabinet reports I have published in recent months (all a matter of public record) he would have seen that the Cabinet have put forward alternative proposals to deliver improvements to our schools right across the Vale of Glamorgan.

Fact 7: Both Mr Cairns and Mr Bertin make reference to Colcot Primary School in Barry, claiming we have a hidden agenda, whereas in reality we are working with the headteacher and have agreed a redevelopment fund of £500,000 for the school and confirmed a new Flying Start Centre will be located at the school. Again this has all been reported in the press.

Fact 8: Alun Cairns has at no point, according our records made any formal representations to me or any other member of the Cabinet over the Scrutiny Committee’s report. So, while sound bites in the press are one thing, actually doing something positive is quite different.

Finally, and importantly the Cabinet since rejecting the Scrutiny Committee report have put forward a clear strategy for schools throughout the Vale of Glamorgan, all of which is in the public domain. There will always be more to do, but I make one clear pledge to every parent, carer, governor, member of staff and pupil across our schools, I will never play politics with education – in my view it is simply too important.

Cllr Chris Elmore

Cabinet Member for Children’s Services

Vale of Glamorgan Council

Barry

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