Education shake up plan is branded ‘short-sighted’

Reporter:

Hayley Collins

RADICAL plans for a shake-up of the county’s education system have been branded “short-sighted”.

At a special meeting of Mold Town Council on Wednesday councillors said Flintshire Council had failed to take into account upcoming planning changes in the Unitary Development Plan.

Education chiefs have drawn up a list of options to deal with the growing number of surplus places in the county’s secondary schools.

Options currently out for consultation include closing both Argoed High School in Mynydd Isa and John Summers in Queensferry.

But Mold councillors said if the schools were closed now they would have to be reopened in a few years to deal with the growing population.

Cllr Chris Bithell, former executive member for education, said: “Looking at the UDP, Deeside is one of the areas that will increase the most in the future with the Gateway to Wales site.

“There will be a massive housing development there that will produce hundreds of children. Where will they go to school? They can’t go to Hawarden or Connah’s Quay because they are overflowing.

“If they close John Summers now they will have to reopen it again in a few years. This is very short-sighted.”

The Gateway to Wales project is part of a redevelopment of the old RAF Sealand site, which will see an extension of Deeside Industrial Estate as well as residential developments.

In Buckley there are major housing developments planned for the old brickworks site.

Cllr Geoff Darkins said: “There might be surplus places at the moment, but in a couple of years time we will need the space for all the people moving into Buckley.”

The Elfed High School currently has surplus places of 31 per cent.

The town council acknowledged something had to be done, but said closing Argoed was not a viable option.

Cllr Carolyn Cattermoul said: “Argoed is the fifth best school in Wales. It’s a successful school and you wouldn’t think of scrapping it in your wildest dreams.”

Cllr Bithell added: “Most of these options are non-runners, but these problems are not going to go away

“We can’t carry on as we are  because it’s a waste of financial resources and at a time when money is short we have to tackle this.”

The town council refused to support any of the proposed options.

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