Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Paying for transport is 'not on' say Plad

Carmarthenshire county council chiefs have put forward a proposal to withdraw free school transport for all children over the age of 16 as a money-saving measure. Although the council is obliged to provide transport for qualifying pupils up to the age of 16, there is no obligation after that point. Most councils, however, opt to do so.

Plaid Cymru councillor, Phil Williams, expressed his concern at the council’s proposal, saying, “This would be a serious additional cost for many parents, particularly at a time of recession. It might even lead to some children leading school after GCSE instead of staying on to do A levels, or opting to go to colleges which do provide transportr and weakening the sixth forms in our schools. I believe that the county should continue to provide this transport.”

He was supported by Cllr Siân Thomas, who added, “The government is forever telling us that developing the skills of our young people is a key element in building a more secure economic future for all of us. We should not be doing anything which undermines the drive the develop a better trained and more highly-educated workforce, and the council should drop this proposal.”

Monday, 22 February 2010

Use power as landlord to insist on use of Welsh

Carmarthenshire County Council has been urged to use its power as a landlord to ensure that businesses and others operating on its premises abide by the council’s own policy on the Welsh language. Cllr Mari Dafis from Plaid Cymru said this week, “The council has a policy of ensuring that all its signs and literature are bilingual. However, when it lets businesses or other organisations operate from its premises, they are currently allowed to ignore the council’s policy completely. In most cases, it would be a small and simple matter to translate the signs, and in the case of catering concessions, the menus. Perhaps the council could even allow the organisations concerned limited use of the council’s translation facilities to assist them. It would be a small step, but it is completely incongruous to have two very different policies operating in the same buildings.”

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Wasting money and misleading people

Carmarthenshire County Council has wasted thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money by engaging consultants to carry out an evaluation of possible school sites in Dinefwr, according to Plaid. The council had asked the consultants to evaluate 14 sites for a new secondary school to serve the Dinefwr area. The new school would replace two existing schools, at Tre-gib in Llandeilo, and Pantycelyn in Llandovery. However, the guidance given to the consultants seems to have ignored the question of parental choice over the language of education, which according to Plaid makes the results completely meaningless.

Plaid’s leader on the council, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, said, “We have pressed the county council time and again to listen to what the parents are saying about the demand for Welsh-medium education, but they seem determined to ignore our call. In the process, they are also ignoring the council’s own policies and the guidance given by the Welsh Government, both of which say that parental choice should be respected, and that parents should be positively encouraged to choose a Welsh-medium education.

“The council gave the consultants a brief about the size of the school and the numbers of pupils likely to attend it which is based on an assumption that all of the parents in the area will opt for the new school, and that none of them will demand a Welsh-medium education. This is patent nonsense; but the conclusions of the study are rendered completely invalid as a result. In short, the council has wasted thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money.”

Plaid also say that the council has deliberately misled people in the north of the county over the possible location of a new school. “When they carried out their flawed ‘consultation exercise’”, said Cllr Hughes Griffiths, “they told people in the Llandovery area that any new school would probably be built in the Llangadog area, about half way between the two schools. I know for certain that many parents indicated their support for the idea of a new school, based on that assumption about its location.

“It was the only possible location suggested at the time by the county council, and to now say that they are instead planning to build the new school to the south of Llandeilo will not only be a serious shock to the parents, but it also invalidates any conclusions from the survey of parents.”

Cllr Hughes Griffiths concluded by saying, “What is becoming increasingly clear is that the council decided what to do first and that all consultation and debate has been little more than a sham. They will press ahead with their plans regardless of what is best for the education of our children, or for the Welsh language. We in Plaid will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that we have a genuine consultation process, and that parental wishes are respected.”