Monday 4 July 2011

Pantecelyn - Staggering Arrogance from Carmarthenshire council

Carmarthenshire County council excelled itself today as it quietly shafted the population of Llandovery. Not only did the Executive Board puppets put the seal on the closure of the town's secondary school, Pantecelyn, but the officer's 'post-consultation' report took a nasty swipe at the campaigners.
This Executive Board meeting had been advertised for September but lo and behold it was held today - a 'draft error' according to Education Director, Robert Sully. Rubbish. @AlexMurraySmith from the Carmarthen Journal informed me that Exec Board Member, Cllr G Wooldridge informed him on the 21st June that;
"A report is now being prepared taking all the information gathered through this consultation into account and it will go before the Executive Board in the Autumn"
Clearly 'draft errors' are contagious.
Do they not realise that people have a legitimate right to oppose any plans the council put forward? These campaigners were respectable folk, teachers, governors, Councillors (not, of course the town's representative in County Hall, Cllr Ivor Jackson, recently featured in Private Eye who kept very quiet about it all), parents and children.

It still remains the case that the only campaign group to have any success in Carmarthenshire was the action group against the Coedbach biomass plant, oddly enough it was loudly and publicly supported by the Council Leader, Meryl Gravell - now isn't that odd?

Clearly irritated that anyone responded to the latest ridiculous 'consultation' exercise with anything less than roaring enthusiasm, they have come up with this staggeringly arrogant 'explanation';

"35. This may have been influenced by an orchestrated campaign of opposition to the Council’s proposals by groups from the Llandovery area. Both the Governing Body of Ysgol Pantycelyn and the Save Ysgol Pantycelyn Action Group have been proactively encouraging people to register opposition to the Council’s proposals. Included in the Appendix to the Consultation Report are copies of letters written by the Chair of Governors at Ysgol Pantycelyn urging people to submit formal objections and a copy of an advertisement taken by the Save Ysgol Pantycelyn Action Group published in a community magazine circulating in the area, encouraging similar action.

36. Whilst these groups are free to promote their opinions of the County Council’s proposals it is of concern that the documentation circulated by them contains inaccuracies and offers misleading information to the public. Given the importance of this consultation exercise and its subject matter it is imperative that members of the public, in particular parents, have an objective understanding of the Council’s proposals and it is, therefore, appropriate that the misleading information in circulation is corrected. This is particularly important in that it appears from the written submissions received that a number of respondents have been guided by this misleading documentation

40. Despite the extraordinary lengths to which the County Council has gone to involve key school stakeholders it is unfortunate that some persons continue to erroneously accuse Council officers of manipulating the site selection process. Officers and advisers have offered numerous explanations in both private and public meetings but the persons concerned have not been receptive to these representations. The sole interest of Council officers in this matter is to secure the best available solution for the education of learners in the Dinefwr area and officers have approached their task diligently and honestly throughout. There is no evidence available to officers to demonstrate that the technical appraisal of the candidate sites conducted by Atkins or the transport impact assessment conducted by Arup have been anything other than objective and professional."

To accuse campaigners of 'orchestrating' opposition is farcical, that is what campaigners do isn't it? But to suggest it was 'orchestrated' implies dishonesty, which is an appalling accusation. Let's not forget the daily 'orchestration' of the truth from the Council PR department. With a child still attending Pantecelyn I have followed this closely, there was no 'misleading information' just carefully and fully evidenced arguments, and emails obtained through the Freedom of Information show that the site selection process was odd to say the least; coming in at a very late stage, the justification for the Ffairfach site was that it was a 'goer'. Enough said.

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1 comment:

Cneifiwr said...

Shocking. I noticed that in Mr Sully's report 91% of those who responded to the "consultation" exercise were opposed to the Ffairfach site.

The choice of language used in the report is frankly sinister and threatening. Those guilty of misrepresenting the council presumably include our MP, Jonathan Edwards, and our AM, Rhodri Glyn Thomas.

This council really is losing the plot.