The Carmarthenshire Plaid Cymru-led Cabinet have delayed the closure of two Carmarthenshire schools but the opposition leader Cllr Rob James has labelled the move as an “electoral tactic with the sword of Damocles now hanging over schools”.
In a statement issued following the executive board meeting today, Monday (Dec 6) Cllr James said:
“Wide opposition from pupils, parents and Cymdeithas yr iaith have opposed the proposals and Plaid Cymru Cabinet Members unanimously voted not to proceed with the statutory notice to close both welsh-medium schools as of 31 August 2022. The proposals to close both schools have been opposed by a majority of pupils and parents connected with the schools, with a large majority of the 900 responses to the consultation opposing the closures.
“Carmarthenshire Labour earlier this year campaigned to pause the closure process of both schools, citing the pressures pupils and parents were under due to the Coronavirus pandemic and stating that it was not the right time to be placing additional pressure on families with school closure proposals.
“Plaid Cymru have now stated that they will now look at the viability of all schools in the county before deciding how to proceed. Carmarthenshire has the second highest number of primary schools in Wales, with around 95 schools across the county, many in small rural communities.
“There are currently thirty five schools in Carmarthenshire with less than 100 pupils, with the majority of these schools not being 60% full. School debts have also been rising since the pandemic, with many schools now in the red. Carmarthenshire Labour have been warning against the possibility of a large school closure programme and it appears that Plaid Cymru have now confirmed that work is being done on the viability of all schools.
“I am pleased that parents and pupils of Ysgol Mynyddygarreg and Ysgol Blaenau have been spared the news that their school will be closing this academic year. However, the Cabinet Member stating that they will relook at it in the near future appears to be a tactic ahead of the local elections in May and keeps the sword of Damocles hanging over the head of both schools.
“We have been calling for months for more transparency on Plaid Cymru’s school closure plans and we are extremely concerned that dozens of schools could now be at risk of closure after the local elections.
“If people want to be spared this constant threat of closures of small and rural schools in Carmarthenshire, they should consider standing in the local elections and standing up for their community. This election will decide the future of many schools in Carmarthenshire.”