Lib Dems call for open-air consultations on school closures

THE Powys Liberal Democrats have called for the council to organise open-air consultation events for all schools across the county currently earmarked for closure.

Powys County Council (PCC) is currently holding consultations – or has just concluded – to shut Castle Caereinon Church in Wales School, Churchstoke County Primary School, Llanbedr Church in Wales School and Llanfihangel Rhydithon County Primary School. The future of Cradoc School and Mount Street Infants and Mount Street Juniors School in Brecon are also under discussion, while there are fears for the futures of scores of other small, rural primary schools across the region.

PCC is looking to reconfigure and rationalise the primary school provision in the county as part of its ‘Strategy for Transforming Education in Powys 2020-2030’ programme and has already begun or concluded consultations on shutting the doors at Castle Caereinion, near Llanfair Caereinion, Churchstoke, near Montgomery, Llanfihangel Rhydithon in Dolau, near Llandrindod Wells, and Llanbedr, near Crickhowell.

“(On Monday) the Welsh Government announced changes that allow the organised outdoor gatherings of up to 4,000 people in standing and 10,000 seated events to take place. Powys County Council should take advantage of this change to enable direct face to face consultation with parents and pupils affected by their closure plans,” said Talgarth county councillor William Powell.

The views were echoed by Cllr John Morris, in whose ward the threatened Llanbedr school resides. “We have been told constantly that there can’t be a public meeting because the Covid rules don’t allow for one,” said Cllr Morris.

“(Monday’s) changes to the regulations remove that excuse. I’m prepared to get wet in order to give my constituents a proper say and I am sure they are too. I can even lend the portfolio holder an umbrella if it helps.”

Both councillors have been backed by Lib Dem regional Senedd Member and the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Jane Dodds. “The Conservatives have put forward these proposals and have hidden behind the smokescreen of Covid restrictions to avoid facing the music,” said Ms Dodds.

“Well, as of (Monday) vaccines and the hard work of the Welsh public has blown the smoke away. They either now face the communities and justify their plans or leave local residents knowing that they are being taken for granted.”

Llandrindod Wells & Rhayader