Councillors call for halt to school plan consultation

Reporter:

Jim Green

LABOUR councillors have demanded a consultation over controversial proposals to revamp Flintshire's schools are halted immediately.

Uncertainty surrounds Flintshire Council’s planned changes to secondary school education following a cut in Welsh Government funding.

Councillor Aaron Shotton, leader of the Labour group in Flintshire, slammed the council for its handling of the process.

“The consultation process that the council has embarked upon has created chaos, confusion and immeasurable upset amongst parents, pupils and staff right across Flintshire,” he said.

“It is completely unacceptable that the consultation is taking place during the school holidays and Labour councillors are speaking out on behalf of parents by calling for an immediate halt to the process.”

Cllr Shotton said his party had put a motion to the council calling for an urgent special meeting.

“Many parents are concerned that they simply have not been given the necessary detail that would enable an open and transparent debate to take place.

“No costings have been produced for the council’s proposals and future projected pupil numbers have not been revealed.

“This is simply not good enough and has resulted in a shambolic consultation exercise that has inflicted unnecessary upset during the school break.”

But Cllr Steele-Mortimer, executive member for lifelong learning said: “The second half of the consultation will be tailored to address the concerns which arose during the first half of the process.

“I see no need for a special meeting of the county council.”

Flintshire Council has put forward several options for modernising the county’s high schools.

Plans being considered include merging John Summers High School in Queensferry with Connah’s Quay High School and creating a super-school in Holywell.

The council also proposed amalgamating Argoed High School in Mynydd Isa with Elfed High School in Buckley.

But Welsh education minister Leighton Andrews recently announced the national school building programme 21st Century Schools would not go ahead as planned.

He said councils had to review their proposals in light of reduced capital funding which meant they would now need to contribute 50 per cent of project costs instead of 30 per cent.

The motion put to Flintshire Council by Labour councillors reads: "We express concern at the tight deadline set for the end of the school modernisation consultation process and recognise the concerns of many parents, teachers and pupils who feel that it is inappropriate for such an important process to be undertaken during the school holidays.

“We call upon the county council to halt the current consultation process and bring forward detailed options, inclusive of costings and future pupil admission projections to a future executive committee, with a view to restarting a more meaningful and informative consultation process.”

See full story in the Leader

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