Cabinet votes to confirm one-year delay for Dolau closure

By Elgan Hearn   |   Local democracy reporter   |
Tuesday 5th July 2022 2:23 pm
Llanfihangel Rhydithon Primary School and Cllr Gareth Ratcliffe
Llanfihangel Rhydithon Primary School. Inset is Cllr Gareth Ratcliffe (Google StreetView. )

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Senior opposition councillors believe that Llanfihangel Rhydithon primary school will close in a year’s time – and that delay is just postponing the inevitable.

At a Powys County Council cabinet meeting on Tuesday, July 5 the new Liberal Democrat/Labour administration went ahead with a decision to delay the closure of the school in an area known locally as Dolau.

The delay means that the new closure date is August 31, 2023, and this is to allow the possibility of the school changing its language category to Welsh Medium to be explored by the council

Cabinet member for a Learning Powys, Liberal Democrat Cllr Pete Roberts linked the approach to the Welsh Government ambition to reach one million Welsh speakers by 2050.

As the school already has Welsh nursery provision, Cllr Roberts believed that there is more potential on the site to provide education in Welsh – than other schools in the area.

Conservative, Cllr Gwynfor Thomas chairman of the Learning and Skills scrutiny committee said:: “There is confusion surrounding it all, but we (committee) grasped that this school will close following this postponement.

“There’s significant cost to the delay without incurring obvious educational benefit.

“There is widespread agreement that Welsh language education needs to be established in the east Radnorshire area.

“But that growth won’t happen in this area due to the numbers.

“We don’t think it’s a sound decision to postpone this closure.”

Plaid Cymru group leader, Cllr Elwyn Vaughan claimed it would take three years to change the language category and that could “prevent” the development of Welsh medium education in other parts of Powys,

Cllr Vaughan said: “Many believe that the only intention in the delay for a year is that you promised during the recent election that you would save the school.”

“That would be a deception and vanity.”

Deputy council leader, Labour’s Cllr Mathew Dorrance explained that the recent election had brought in a Liberal Democrat/Labour minority administration to deliver a programme to best serve the residents of Powys.

This needs “compromise” said Cllr Dorrance as no party would be able to deliver all of its manifesto programme.

Cllr Dorrance said: “We have to be grown up and work with what we’ve been dealt.

“This administration may have a different vision to transforming education to its predecessor, and we need to be able to take that forward.

“Transformation in our schools is required we are all very clear of the case and need of change.

“This is asking us to give some time and to reassure ourselves as a new administration that decisions are made in the right way.”

Council leader Cllr James Gibson Watt said: “This is a change of philosophical approach, based on the importance schools play in their communities.”

The cabinet then voted to go ahead with the delay.

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