"The reassurance given to Cllr Pete Roberts (Lib Dem, Llandrindod South) in Cabinet today should spell the end of the current Llanfihangel Rhydithon Primary School closure plan". That is the view of the Powys Lib Dem/Green group in a letter they have sent to the Portfolio Holder this afternoon.
"When officers confirmed that the engagement with mid-Powys communities around the proposals plans to create an all-through Welsh medium school and an English medium high school based on the two Ysgol Calon Cymru sites would also include a wider consultation on the primary provision in the catchment they effectively initiated a catchment area review and sounded the death knell for their plans at Llanfihangel Rhydithon." commented Group leader Cllr James Gibson-Watt.
"By definition, if there is a wider engagement within the catchment proposals may come forward which include retaining a provision on the Llanfihangel Rhydithon site. This means the terms of the Rural Schools Policy in respect of this school have not been met and to proceed with closure would be unlawful. Given the huge amount of officer time and risk of judicial review this now entails I have today written to the Portfolio Holder urging him to withdraw the proposal on the table and refocus officer time into preparing the best possible engagement plan documentation for the entire Calon Cymru catchment so we can reach a solution that the whole community can buy into." he concluded.
Liberal Democrat Regional MS, Jane Dodds’ agreed with the groups conclusions but felt there were wider implications for the entire transformation programme.
"In setting up a catchment area engagement programme for the Ysgol Calon Cymru area the administration is failing to treat all Powys pupils, parents, and teachers equally. As Cllr Roberts pointed out the original discussion for the transformation included discussion and a presentation about the success of a multi-campus all-through school in Dolgellau. The new engagement will be able to debate this option for mid-Powys but parents in Llanbedr, Churchstoke and Castle Caereinion have been denied that opportunity. The transformation team should now go back to the drawing board and reopen dialogue with all communities so we can have an education reform that everyone is engaged with on an equal footing."