Tuesday 7 January 2017
LLANGENNECH SCHOOL - ‘A NONSULTATION NOT A CONSULTATION’
Neil Hamilton, Leader of UKIP Group in the Welsh Assembly and AM for Mid & West Wales, has raised at First Minister’s Questions the issue of Carmarthenshire County Council’s plans to make Ysgol Llangennech, Llanelli a Welsh Medium school.
Speaking in the Senedd today, Mr Hamilton said that whilst he supported the Welsh Government’s aim of a million Welsh speakers by 2050, he was strongly opposed to the actions of Plaid Cymru controlled Carmarthenshire County Council in forcing a Welsh language school on the people of Llangennech, against the overwhelming wishes of the majority of parents in that village.
Furious parents are up in arms over the decision and have set up a campaign group to fight the proposals.
The First Minister declined to intervene and told Mr Hamilton that it was a matter which should be dealt with by Carmarthenshire County Council.
Mr Hamilton said that he was not satisfied with the response from the First Minister and vowed to continue to support the parents.
Commenting, Neil Hamilton said:
“The Welsh Medium Education Strategy says that Wales should be a country where people can choose to live their lives thorough either, or both, Welsh or English, which I think is a reasonable objective.
“I fully support the target to have one million Welsh speakers by 2050 but to
enforce Welsh only medium schools on areas where quite clearly there is a call for both languages is anti-democratic, especially when 70% of the village speaks English.
“The Keep Llangennech Dual Committee has my full support to fight these proposals which fly in the face of local democracy. When County Councillors voted last month to give the go ahead to the plan, they displayed a complete disregard for local wishes and ignored the fact that the majority of people had voted against it.
“It seems incredible to me that after over 95% of respondents opposed the proposal, it was still approved by councillors. Clearly, this has been a ‘Nonsultation’ not a Consultation.
“Carmarthenshire County Council is trying to steamroller this through against the wishes of the electorate. As lead campaigner, Michaela Beddows said, ‘Compulsion breeds resentment’ which is exactly what has happened in Llangennech.
“I plan to meet with members of the Keep Llangennech Dual Committee later this week to discuss how we might work together to take this further.”
“This decision, if it goes ahead, will cause great hardship to parents and children living in the village and I call on Welsh Government urgently to intervene and ensure that local democracy is respected and upheld.”
The Keep Llangennech Dual Committee was set up in response to a consultation process instigated by the Local Education Authority, Carmarthenshire County Council and is made up of parents with children at the school and those who may have pupils attending in the future.
In an email to Mr Hamilton, the group issued an invitation to meet with the AM as soon as possible to discuss the matter.
They claim that the school and LEA began a consultation process for the school to become a Welsh Medium only facility in September 2016 or 2017, 18 months after the decision was agreed between the parties and an unofficial trial was begun.
The group is concerned that apart from the council not listening to the majority there was no equivalent English medium school, within reasonable travelling distance, which had capacity for the children of Llangennech.
The KLDC has tried to seek assurances that alternative provision for English medium be available and of the three schools identified Bryn, Bynea and Hendy, two are already oversubscribed and the other is over an hours walk from the village through the busy junction 48 of the M4 motorway.
If the proposal is allowed and in light of the over whelming number of people from the village who are against the proposal, the group claim, the new school cannot be truly called a community school as it will not be properly representing the community that is Llangennech.
They are calling on public bodies to look into this whole process before it has a long-standing effect on the children and community of Llangennech.