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School closure consultation extended following pressure from SOS group and politicians

ALL school consultations have been extended until the end of the summer term after pressure from parents, governors and politicians about holding consultations during the pandemic.

In the last Council meeting of Carmarthenshire Council, Carmarthenshire Labour Councillors tabled a motion demanding that consultations be paused during pandemic to support parents and pupils’ mental health.

During the meeting, Labour Councillors individually read out heart wrenching personal testimonies from parents outlining the anguish they are experiencing trying to care for children at home, whilst working from home or as a key worker and responding to consultation documents proposing the closure of their child’s school.

Similar calls had previously been made by Nia Griffith MP and Lee Waters MS.

Llanelli MP, Nia Griffith, said:

“I am glad that at last the Council has listened to parents, who have had very little time to look at the consultation with all the extra stress of the pandemic situation. Now what matters is for the Council to use the opportunity to listen to parents and communities and to explore all the options and not to rush into foregone conclusions.”

Lee Waters, MS for Llanelli, added:

“I’m glad that Carmarthenshire Council have listened to our calls to extend consultation periods for the closure of several small schools. Because of lockdown, parents haven’t had the chance to meet or campaign as would normally happen when decisions with such lasting consequences are being made. I’m pleased they now have that opportunity. Our focus will now turn to ensuring any decision made by the Council is properly scrutinised and robust, as there are valid concerns about the statistics being used by education officers to justify their preference for closure.”

Speaking after the announcement, Opposition Leader Cllr Rob James said “This has been a long and emotional fight for parents who have been challenging Plaid Cymru’s school closure plans.

“Plaid Cymru Councillors have known for months that they had the power to delay the consultation and ease the stress placed on families, yet they refused to do so. It was only after our continuing pressure to extend the consultation, have they finally conceded and extended the consultation until the end of the summer term.

“We will now work closely with the parents and pupils of these schools to ensure that their voice is heard loud and clear on these proposals.”

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