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.”

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