MP in war of words over schools shake-up
COUNTY ‘ASTOUNDED BY CRITICISM’
ACOUNCIL leader “astounded” by an MP’s attack on her authority’s schools policy has hit back to defend the programme.
Anglesey council’s school modernisation programme was accused of “ignoring local communities” by Albert Owen MP in a pre-election war of words.
Writing in last week’s Mail column, Labour MP Albert Owen claimed that the authority had “messed up” the programme designed to reduce the number of empty spaces and improve school buildings.
Having already opened three new multi-million-pound “super schools” over recent years, last December saw councillors rubber-stamp the closure of Ysgol Gymuned Bodffordd to merge it with Llangefni’s Ysgol Corn Hir in a brand new facility.
This followed decisions made in July 2018 to shut Ysgol Gynradd Beaumaris, while refurbishing Ysgol Llandegfan and Ysgol Llangoed, as well as the closure of Ysgol Talwrn, with the pupils set to be moved 1.8 miles away to an extended Ysgol y Graig in Llangefni.
But alarm bells started to ring this past March when the education minister revealed she was investigating a complaint the council did not follow proper procedure in deciding to shut Ysgol Gymuned Bodffordd.
The subsequent officers’ report, presented to the executive, recommended scrapping these decisions after an internal review found “a number of comments and concerns,” with officers of the opinion that portions of the consultation process fell foul of the Welsh Government’s previous Schools Organisation Code.
But according to Mr Owen, local people
had “warned the authority of issues”, only for the council to “carry on with its ad-hoc preferred options, ignoring local communities, stating the need for a “2020 vision.”
Subsequently, the authority has confirmed that all such projects are on hold for the time being until new consultations can be carried out in the affected areas.
This includes radical proposals which would see Amlwch’s Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones being amalgamated with local primaries or even shut altogether in a bid to reduce the number of empty spaces.
Mr Owen wrote that the council needed a “coherent plan that takes local people with them.”
“Now communities will be asked again on closures and new schools.
“This has caused anxiety to parents across the island and no doubt the incompetence of the authority will cost the taxpayer money.”
But in response, the Plaid Cymru leader of the authority denied they were lacking vision, pointing out to their targets of improving both educational standards and buildings.
“Within the last three years we have opened three brand new state of the art schools at Rhyd y Llan, Ysgol Cybi and most recently Ysgol Santes Dwynwen,” Cllr Llinos Medi told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
“These have been unprecedented developments in the history of Anglesey Council and have been warmly welcomed by the children, teachers and parents.”
She added: “I was astounded to hear Albert Owen attacking the Council’s Schools Modernisation Programme – describing it as not being coherent and stating that we need a 2020 vision.”
■ Llinos Medi, leader of Anglesey Council, and (inset) Albert Owen