40,000 reasons to save Argoed High School

Reporter:

Jim Green

COUNCILLORS have been bombarded with tens of thousands of letters as parents fighting to save their school step up their campaign.

More than 40,000 letters have been hand delivered to the homes of all 70 Flintshire County councillors by campaigners opposed to plans to shut Mynydd Isa’s Argoed High School.

Councillors are due to attend a special meeting on Wednesday to discuss the local authority’s controversial schools modernisation proposals.

Parent Stacey Kelly is one of the leaders of the campaign to keep Argoed open.

She said the letters demonstrated the support for the school in the community.

“We collected more than 2,000 letters from people against the council’s plans to close our school,” she said.

“Our plan was to send a copy of each letter to every single councillor but we simply ran out of resources in the end.

“About 150 volunteers helped us get the letters out with some working for two full days. The whole of Mynydd Isa has come together.”

The letters urge councillors to support the campaign by voting for Argoed to be removed from the modernisation options being considered.

Mrs Kelly said it was difficult to put a figure on how much time and money had been spent on the campaign.

“The cost of the manpower alone would run into the thousands,” she said.

Mrs Kelly’s 12-year-old daughter Caitlin is a pupil at Argoed. Together with her friend Imogen Dingle, also 12, Caitlin delivered many of the letters to councillors. “I love my school and don’t want them to close it, she said.”

Imogen added: “Argoed is a brilliant school.

“All of the teachers know your name and they give a lot of help to children with learning difficulties.”

Heidi Jenkins, whose 13-year-old daughter Megan attends Argoed, was part of the 150-strong team who helped with the letter campaign.

“It is a wonderful school and closing it would have a massive impact on Mynydd Isa,” she said.

All of the letters were delivered to councillors at the end of last week.

Ewloe councillor Alison Halford was shocked to return to her home on Thursday afternoon to find a mountain of letters on her doorstep.

She said: “The whole porch was ankle deep in petitions and envelopes. It took me a few moments to work out what was going on.

“Someone has gone to a huge amount of trouble to do this because they are furious about what is happening."

Cllr Halford said she would deliver all 279 letters to Ian Budd, the council’s director of lifelong learning, at County Hall.

Saltney Cllr Klaus Armstrong-Braun said: “I nearly fell over the letters when I got home. There were 291 in total.

“I will read them all diligently but as councillors we have a legal duty to look at this fairly.

“They have gone to a lot of effort and dedication but we have to consider all of the children at every school.”

Broughton South councillor Peter Pemberton received a black bin bag containing aboaut 200 letters.

“I have had a look at some of them and feel very strongly about this process,” he said.

“There are lots of questions we need to ask about education.

“We know cuts have to be made but education is the future of our nation.”

Cllr Marion Bateman, who represents Northop, is supporting the campaign to keep Argoed open.

“The campaigners are working really hard and tirelessly,” she said. “Argoed is a flagship of Flintshire schools and a model for others to follow.”

See full story in the Leader

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