Fury over school re­port blun­der

OF­FI­CIALS SORRY FOR ‘HON­EST MIS­TAKE’

Bangor Mail - - NEWS - Gareth Wyn Wil­liams

OF­FI­CIALS have apol­o­gised for a coun­cil re­port blun­der fol­low­ing ac­cu­sa­tions it “ran roughshod” over a con­sul­ta­tion process on school clo­sures.

An­gle­sey Coun­cil of­fi­cials are cur­rently weigh­ing up op­tions in the Seiriol area of the is­land, which could see up to two of its three pri­mary schools shut and/or merge.

Among the op­tions are to shut Ys­gol Beau­maris, which faces a £1m re­pair bill, with the site be­ing ear­marked for a pos­si­ble Ex­tra Care hous­ing scheme.

But lo­cal coun­cil­lors wrote a strong­ly­worded let­ter to the chief ex­ec­u­tive af­ter a re­port marked “of­fi­cial – sen­si­tive”, set to be dis­cussed by the coun­cil’s Cor­po­rate Scru­tiny Com­mit­tee last week, ap­par­ently re­vealed the pre­ferred op­tion to be shut­ting one pri­mary school and mov­ing its pupils to an­other, which will be re­fur­bished.

At an es­ti­mated cost of £650,000, this cor­re­sponds with the cost of one op­tion in the con­sul­ta­tion doc­u­ment of clos­ing Ys­gol Beau­maris, with pupils sent to an ex­tended and re­fur­bished Ys­gol Llan­goed.

The other school in­cluded in the con­sul­ta­tion is Ys­gol Llan­deg­fan.

But coun­cil of­fi­cers apol­o­gised for “an hon- est mis­take”, re­it­er­at­ing that no de­ci­sion has been made.

By the fol­low­ing day, the re­port had been edited with all ref­er­ence to the £650,000 fig­ure taken out.

The apol­ogy was pre­ceded by com­ments from Cllr Lewis Davies, who said at the scru­tiny meet­ing: “To see a re­port like this come out of the blue, does noth­ing to im­prove the coun­cil’s per­cep­tion in the area.

“This doesn’t si­lence some peo­ple’s fears that any de­ci­sion is a done deal be­fore the con­sul­ta­tion process even starts.”

The let­ter sent to the coun­cil’s chief ex­ec­u­tive on be­half of Cllr Davies, as well as fel­low mem­bers Car­wyn Jones and Alun Roberts, noted: “This re­port has left us to­tally dumb­founded and dis­heart­ened as lo­cal elected coun­cil­lors who work and try so hard over our cor­ner of An­gle­sey.

“We now ask that the con­sul­ta­tion process is stopped and that a pub­lic meet­ing is held in the Seiriol Ward by se­nior coun­cil of­fi­cials to ex­plain the sit­u­a­tion.”

One lo­cal res­i­dent, who did not wish to be named, added: “We were told by coun­cil of­fi­cers at the re­cent pub­lic meet­ings, that all op­tions were left on the table and that noth­ing was a done deal. “But this makes a mock­ery of all of that. “The coun­cil is slam­ming the Na­tional Grid for not tak­ing the pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion process se­ri­ously, but what’s so dif­fer­ent in this in­stance?”

In re­sponse, ed­u­ca­tion port­fo­lio holder, Cllr Meirion Jones, said: “The orig­i­nal re­port had fig­ures that had been in­cluded by ac­ci­dent, and were re­moved once we were made aware of the er­ror.

“I can only apol­o­gise to ev­ery­one on the com­mit­tee and those liv­ing in the Seiriol ward, and em­pha­sise that no de­ci­sion has been made.”

Chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Dr Gwynne Jones, added: “The con­sul­ta­tion is cur­rently on­go­ing.

“The re­port refers to the Author­ity’s Strate­gic Outline Pro­gramme (SOP) for schools Band B which will run from 2019-2024.

“All lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in Wales have been re­quested to pro­vide their pro­pos­als for the sec­ond round of school moderni­sa­tion.

“But I re­it­er­ate that all op­tions re­main on the table, and we are in lis­ten­ing mode.”

Cllrs Car­wyn Jones, Alun Roberts and Lewis Davies out­side Ys­gol Beau­maris, which could be fac­ing clo­sure

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