Plaid’s promise of ‘local solutions’ on school closures broken.

The top line of Plaid Cymru’s 2012 manifesto read as follows;

“Plaid Cymru councillors are a crucial part of the team of Plaid Cymru representatives at all levels of government who are listening to what everyone in our community has to say and are working hard to make people’s lives better.”

In a recent meeting of Full Council in Gwynedd, Councillors from across the region were asked to vote on how school closures should be decided upon. An ongoing problem across the county for many years. Plaid Cymru Councillors voted, en bloc, in favour of giving the Cabinet the power to decide on school closures.

A council without strong opposition has just pulled the carpet from underneath Councillor’s feet – Full Council has even fewer powers. Another nail in the coffin for democracy in Gwynedd.

In 2012 Plaid Cymru launched its manifesto, setting out its vision for a Plaid Cymru governed Gwynedd Council. In that manifesto, Plaid Cymru said;

“Plaid Cymru councillors will continue to lead the discussions resulting from a reduction in the numbers of children and the need for fewer buildings by negotiation in order to find local solutions.”

In a letter to local press another resident said they could not believe that Plaid Cymru “the champion of small rural communities, the bastion of Welshness” was pursuing a plan of school closures.

School closures has massive impact on local communities, the future of local rural communities, and on pupil’s and individual’s sense of belonging, and those who live, work and represent those communities now have very little influence over the decision to close or keep schools open.

Plaid also promised the following to the electorate;

  • Our aim is to create an education system that produces rounded individuals with a strong sense of belonging
  • Plaid Cymru will introduce an innovative scheme in the world of education that concentrates on children who are not at present achieving their full potential
  • Plaid Cymru believes in developing viable rural education for the future
  • Our ambition is to create an education system that will thrive in the future with an emphasis on enabling strong headteachers to lead in their communities
  • Plaid Cymru believes that federalisation, lifelong schools, co-operation, building new area schools are options to be considered in different circumstances.

In April 2012 Llais Gwynedd Leader, Councillor Owain Williams said: “The school closures have no educational, economical or environmental basis and is nothing more than the Plaid Cymru-run Council’s blinkered campaign to destroy the county’s most  fragile communities both socially and culturally.”

Plaid should remember that democracy isn’t something for at the ballot box – it happens every day, yet local people are becoming less able to hold their council to account and influence decisions made.

Whilst politics should remain separate to education, communities are an integral part of education and it’s important that communities remain at the heart of schools and education across Gwynedd and across Wales. This is another example of how Plaid Cymru controlled Gwynedd Council is not acting in the best interests of local people, fail to hear what local communities have to say, and are failing to recognise the collective power of individuals to shape decisions about their communities.

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