Flintshire primary school’s summer closure confirmed by council vote

Reporter:

Staff reporter (Leader Live)

A RURAL primary school will close in August after councillors backed a decision to shut its doors.

Unless overturned by judicial review or the new Welsh Government, Ysgol Llanfynydd will close for the final time on August 31.

Members of Flintshire Council’s education and youth overview and scrutiny committee voted to uphold the decision made by the authority cabinet to close the school, during a call-in meeting yesterday.

Another threatened primary school, Ysgol Maes Edwin in Flint Mountain, has been given a brief stay of execution after members sent that decision to full council to be debated once again.

Parent governor at Ysgol Llanfynydd Louise Thompson said she was “completely gutted” but the school would continue the fight for its future.

In the second of two meetings held on the future of the schools, call-in instigator and Llanfynydd councillor Hilary Isherwood said her reason for bringing back the cabinet decision from April 19 was due to allegedly incorrect data and protocols not being followed correctly.

Cllr Isherwood said if the school was to close it would bring about “dire consequences” as the children were “the lifeblood of the village”.

She added: “Closure makes it a drive-through village and the school will keep it alive.”

Cabinet member for education, Cllr Chris Bithell, said the authority could no longer afford to subsidise small schools like Ysgol Llanfynydd as it had done before.

Chief officer Ian Budd said Flintshire Council had an “absolute commitment” to work with the school and wider community through the transition phase between closure and pupils moving into new schools.

Cllr Dave Healey said he was “troubled” by the proposed closure and it was “very sad to be at this stage”.

“The school has provided an excellent service for a large number of children,” he added.

Speaking after the decision to close the school was backed by a committee vote, Mrs Thompson said: “We’re completely gutted and very disappointed with the lack of support from councillors.

“They always think that because one school can take children that everything is OK.

“We haven’t been told officially if Parc Y Llan in Treuddyn can take the children officially and parents may well not want to take them there.

“We’re not happy at all but we will continue.”

A governors meeting will be held next week to determine the next steps.

In Flint Mountain, Ysgol Maes Edwin was given a potential chance of survival after the same committee voted for the decision to be debated by the full council.

Call-in instigator Cllr Nigel Steele-Mortimer likened the closure to a “shotgun murder” in response to claims made by Cllr Bithell that forcing schools to federate was akin to a “shotgun wedding”.

Cllr Steele-Mortimer said chairmen of governors at neighbouring schools had been “very short-sighted” in not attempting to set up a federation.

Cllr Paul Cunningham said house building in Flint, Northop and Northop Hall would help fill surplus places at the school and children studying at Ysgol Maes Edwin should not be valued as statistics.

Council leader Aaron Shotton said he would love to “stand here and say we can keep the schools open” but it would “spread the jam even more thinly”.

Cllr Shotton added: “How can it be fair that an area like Buckley Mountain has more than £1,000 less spent than Maes Edwin?”

A decision to send the original decision to close the school to be debated by full council was supported by six votes to five with two abstentions.

Ysgol Maes Edwin acting headteacher Kay Baker, said: “We are very pleased with what has happened today.”

See full story in the Leader

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