There are concerns that all Primary schools in Neath Port Talbot could face closure unless there is a change within NPT. An outgoing Labour Chairman has said “no school is safe! as the county forces super schools across the county”.
It comes as there are fresh calls for a public enquiry into the closing of Godre’r’graig Primary school in the aftermath of Council Leader Rob Jones’ resignation. The school was closed because of alleged fears of a landslip which Rob Jones compared to “Aberfan”. A comparison which experts have stated as incorrect and local parents have labelled “scaremongering and suspicious”.
The closure of the school has seen pupils as young as 3 catching a bus from their community to a temporary portacabin up to 5 miles from their home for the past 2 years. Parents were also sceptical that the portacabin was placed at the location of Rob Jones’ supposed ‘Super School’.
One such parent was Ben Holdsworth who told us “Rob Jones seized an opportunity that suited his political and personal agenda. The Risk assessment by ESP that preceded and was the reason given to close the school gave no such recommendations. Rob Jones took this opportunity to, and has continued to, act out his own political and personal agenda. This process was deeply flawed at best and wilfully dishonest at worst.”
“In light of the statements made in the recording of Rob Jones regarding Godrergraig School, it is imperative that there is a full public inquiry into the council leaders’ decisions regarding Godrergraig and the consequences of those decisions. Over 1 million pounds of public money has been spent so far. We deserve answers to the questions we have been asking for almost 2 years.”
“This has affected an entire community, not least its youngest and most vulnerable members. It will continue to affect our Children throughout their journey, and our community in perpetuity.”
ROB JONES ‘SUPERSCHOOLs’
During that recording, Rob Jones is heard favouring large super schools stating, “if I had my way all schools would be 3 to 16”. This has angered residents and local councillors alike. Pontardawe Plaid Cymru councillor Anthony Richards said “I would like clarification on what is the legal position regarding the Leader giving his opinions on his decision regarding the School reorganisation proposal, whilst at the same time elected members representing these areas are blocked from voicing their current positions on the same subject due to being accused of pre-determining a decision?”
The leader of the Plaid Cymru group of councillors on NPT Council, Cllr Alun Llewelyn, has called for the schools reorganisation process to be suspended.
“I am aware that the consultation report on the reorganisation is due to be published imminently. I am writing to request that the reorganisation process be suspended for two reasons.”
“There has been a complete loss of confidence in the process, and the local authority’s intentions, among parents and residents following the disclosure of comments by the Leader of Council Cllr. Rob Jones. To continue in these circumstances while the situation is under investigation is untenable.”
“Secondly, a number of parents raised concerns that proper consultation was affected by lockdown. I understand that Welsh Government have issued new guidance allowing extension of consultation periods to take account of the pandemic and Carmarthenshire for example have extended their own school reorganisation consultation period.”
ALL SCHOOLS IN NPT
Both the chair and the vice-chair of the Pontardawe Labour Ward have resigned in the past 12 months because of the school consultation process in Pontardawe.
Leon Vincent resigned as chair of the Pontardawe Labour ward in January and told us “I resigned because the lies in the whole process are blatant. The pupil numbers do not add up, the figures are dreamt up. Rob Jones wanted a super-school and the whole consultation process was a sham to end up with what he wanted. There needs to be an investigation into the whole process. From the way that Godre’r’graig school closed to the imaginary 180 odd kids in the consultation. This hasn’t been transparent or honest and I’m afraid it runs deeper than just Rob Jones.”
“Residents and parents all across Neath Port Talbot need to pay attention to this now because this council are closing schools immorally and in an underhand way. It is Pontardawe today but it will be Glynneath, Seven Sisters, Skewen, Afan Valley and everywhere else next. All schools in Neath Port Talbot face closure by lies”
Parents at Alltwen, Godre’r’graig and Llangiwg are asking Neath Port Talbot residents who oppose any school closures in the borough to join their fight for transparency by joining their facebook group Save Our Schools Wales (facebook.com)