Wales

Council boss sorry for Anglesey primary school closure plans

Protestors Image copyright LDRS
Image caption Campaigners feared school closures would threaten the future of Welsh-speaking communities

A council chief has apologised after admitting that officers failed to meet government guidelines when recommending the closure of three primary schools.

Dr Gwynne Jones said council officers acted on his advice over school reorganisation projects to reduce the number of empty spaces and cut costs.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams said in March she was considering a complaint about closure plans for Ysgol Gymuned Bodffordd, in Anglesey.

The original plans have been scrapped.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service said a report noted that an internal review had been carried out following "a number of comments and concerns".

Officers were of the opinion that portions of the consultation process fell foul of the Welsh Government's Schools Organisation Code.

Addressing Monday's meeting, Isle of Anglesey County Council's chief executive Mr Jones said: "As a result of these findings, the risks associated with the process and ensuring that our processes are thorough and in respect to these communities, the recommendation is we rescind the previous decisions made.

"This slippage is not the fault of the executive nor elected members - they have acted on advice given by myself and other officers and I would like to apologise.

"I'm very disappointed that this has happened, and would also like to apologise to all stakeholders.

"As a team, we did not pick up these factors and I'm very disappointed, as the modernisation process is a challenging task and you've been forced to make difficult decisions."

Image copyright Anglesey council
Image caption Dr Gwynne Jones said the authority had been threatened with legal action

Despite protests, in December councillors rubber-stamped the closure of Ysgol Gymuned Bodffordd in order to merge the school with Llangefni's Ysgol Corn Hir in a new facility.

This followed decisions made in July to shut Ysgol Gynradd Beaumaris, while refurbishing Ysgol Llandegfan and Ysgol Llangoed, as well as the closure of Ysgol Talwrn, with the pupils set to be moved to an extended Ysgol y Graig in Llangefni.

With all three school reorganisation projects having been formally scrapped, the expectation is that officers will draw up new proposals.

Any new plans will have to meet even more stringent guidelines drawn up as part of the latest Schools Organisation Code, which works on the presumption that rural schools should remain open.

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