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Posted by: John Brace | 17th December 2014

How did Councillor Tony Smith answer 2 questions about the Cabinet decision on closure of Lyndale School?

How did Councillor Tony Smith answer 2 questions about the Cabinet decision on closure of Lyndale School?

                                            

Council (Wirral Council) 15th December 2014

Council 15th December 2014 Agenda item 4 Public Question Time John Brace asks a question of Cllr Tony Smith on Lyndale School

Council 15th December 2014 Agenda item 4 Public Question Time John Brace asks a question of Cllr Tony Smith on Lyndale School

In light of the fact that Wirral Council’s Cabinet meets tonight to make a decision about Lyndale School (amongst other matters), I thought this transcript of the public question time that includes two questions I asked Cllr Tony Smith about the upcoming decision on Lyndale School at the public meeting of Council on Monday 15th December might be of interest to some people. It starts at 31:46 in the video above.

The first question is a written question from Mr John Brace to Cllr Tony Smith (Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services) submitted on the 4th December 2014. The second is one Cllr Tony Smith doesn’t get advance warning of until he heard it on Monday evening.

JOHN BRACE: Wirral Council recently had a four-week consultation on the closure of the Lyndale School in Eastham and there will be a special Cabinet meeting later this month on the 17th December 2014.

Can you please answer:

(a) how many responses were received by Wirral Council to the latest four-week consultation on closure of the Lyndale School,
(b) whether the text of the responses to the latest four-week consultation will be published in full (rather than a summary in a Cabinet report) and if so when,
(c) whether all Cabinet Members making a decision on the 17th December 2014 will in advance of making a decision at the meeting of the 17th December 2014 have read all the written consultation responses to the four week consultation on closure prior to making their decision on the 17th December 2014

and

(d) whether all Cabinet Members making a decision on the 17th December 2014 will in advance of making a decision at the meeting of the 17th December 2014 have read the statutory guidance for decision makers on this matter issued earlier this year by the government which is available online?

Thank you.

CLLR TONY SMITH: Thank you Mr. Brace, thank you Mr Brace.

Errm, right on question a, errm in accordance with statutory guidance there was a four-week consultation period and during that time any person could make comments or objections to the proposal to close the school, to close the school and there are twenty-one representations received.

Six from the Lyndale School, one from Stanley School and fourteen others who were mainly Members, twenty were received by email and one letter was received.

So question b, errm an acknowledgement has been given to all those who made representations. The whole set of redacted copies of the representations has been provided as appendix 4 to the Cabinet report and a full set of unredacted copies has been provided to members of the Cabinet prior to their meeting on the 17th December to inform the decision-making. The unredacted copies have been sent to Cabinet Members on a disc.

Err question c, all, as I said earlier, every Member of the Cabinet have received a disc, which contains copies of the representations, that are unredacted and which will be read prior to their meeting on the 17th December and the question d, yes is the answer.

The full guidance produced by the Department for Education, in December, or the Department for Education in 2014 called School Organisation for Maintained Schools: Guidance for proposals and decision makers has been provided at appendix 3 of the Cabinet report. The Cabinet, as the decision-maker, will have regard to the factors it will need to take into account and this is outlined in paragraph 4 onwards in the Cabinet report.

JOHN BRACE: Thank you.

MAYOR OF WIRRAL: OK, err we normally ask if you if you want a supplementary question? Have you got one? OK?

JOHN BRACE: Thank you Councillor Tony Smith for answering my first question. I do have a supplementary.

Earlier this year, a further decision about Lyndale School was made by Cabinet on the 16th January. This decision was called in.

The Coordinating Committee couldn’t decide on the call in until Council in February had added two parent governors with voting rights to the Committee.

That was because it was a legal requirement to have at least two parent governors with voting rights on the committee.

Now regulation 7(5) and 7(6) of the Parent Governor Representatives (England) Regulations [2001] state that parent governors representatives cease to be qualified if they fail to attend a meeting for six months and also fail to send an apology.

Now, the Coordinating Committee has met many times over the last six months and I’ve not seen either one of the two parent governors at any public meeting, nor have the minutes reflected that they sent their apologies.

Therefore it seems logical to conclude that it doesn’t have the required two parent governor representatives.

As any decision on the future of Lyndale School could be called in, to the Coordinating Committee, how do you propose as Cabinet Member including the voice of parent governors in the current decision and to remedy that situation?

CLLR TONY SMITH: OK, thank you Mr. Brace. I think errm I will probably have to give you a written report on that regarding the detail of your question. I’ll give you a written report.

JOHN BRACE: OK, thank you.

MAYOR OF WIRRAL: OK, thank you Mr. Brace. That was the only public question that we had to deal with. I’m moving on to item 5, which is Leader’s, Executive Member’s and Chair’s reports.

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Responses

  1. Mr Brace, a Good Corroborative Piece this one, confirming previous information you had already gleaned. In my opinion only, the second question the more important one.

    Mr G, believes he now has the Crown Jewels (Metaphorically Speaking) in his hands, it appears it might be a Nice Christmas for your contributors and for that I am glad.

    You all appear to have worked hard in your specific fields of expertise and I look forward to your future articles

    • Well it probably matters more when the decision is called in and that can’t happen until the Cabinet minutes are published.

      My view at the moment is that any future call in to the Coordinating Committee can’t proceed without fresh elections for the parent governor representatives, Council agreeing to the new appointments and by then I would suspect the case would be sub judice anyway…

      See [2001] EWHC Admin 452 http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2001/452.html for how a decision of Wallsall Metropolitan Borough Council from 2001 was overturned by a judge in 2002 because the parent governors weren’t allowed to vote.

      However there are numerous other grounds on which this decision might be challenged in the courts.

      I hope one or more of them are successful.

      I will point out that the original date of 31st December 2015 to close the school would have meant that if permission for judicial review had been given that using an estimate of a year from filing a case to a final hearing would have happened after the school was closed.

      That’s not the official reason the date to close the school was modified though to 31st August 2016.

  2. I would not like at this stage to assume anything that could happen. However, I am quite concerned that nothing has been heard from the “Child Protection Team” reference the possible/probable ” Serious Risk ” as to moving the Children from a “Place of Safety” to an “Unknown Environment” and possible ” Segregation ” and as you point out there are indeed other reasons for the Non Move. I would see if one of the reasons is not in the hands of Mr G.

    • I would have thought “Lessons would have been Learned” by now.

    • Such risks should have been covered in the Equality Impact Assessment. For the very sorts of reasons you outline Wirral Council is setting up a Safeguarding Reference Group, see here for the decision and report, but it was only agreed 2 1/2 days ago, so I doubt it has met yet!

      • I have noted all the Documents, you have placed on the Blog and I note with some concern, no independent members are on that group. I can appreciate the specific Comment about the other Council and possible implications, the decision on this matter still rests fairly and squarely on the Local Council itself.

        I would also be asking, why this Building is so important to the Council? What reason besides falling numbers is the reason for the eventual disposal of the Building? Who wants it? Is it being called in so to speak? That Draconian Measure? and Why if the School is Extremely Good, why have other Children with the same quality of life, not been sent there for the excellent services the School provides?

  3. G’day John

    What a horrible night orchestrated by a horrible Kitchen Cabinet that would just say yes to anything “The Dunny Chain Wearer” says.

    “Phil the Dill” is just irrelevant.

    Enough of Lyndale before I say what I really think.

    Can you tell me if I have this right John as I am not as highbrow as “Highbrow” and Reprahpets?

    So at the Clowncil seven or so clowns select a roving CEO (roving around their inbred society) who is for ever grateful for being given a massive salary and won’t say anything bad about them there clowncillors.

    He works with the Clowncil officers and his is bigger than theirs and he won’t have anything bad said about them either because he is their boss.

    So both gangs get to big for their boots and take the piss or the money or both.

    Then there is a “Shyster” in the background telling them all to keep their gobs shut if one group has taken the piss or the money is showing the other gang theirs is bigger. He might or might not be paid over and above.

    Am I close John?

    Ooroo

    James

    Ps Have you seen that email yet John? If not I could hand you a copy in an envelope on the Clown Hall stairwell. Deja vu!

    Lets be naughty and pass it on THE STAIRCASE FROM GRA GRA’S HEAVEN

    • No it’s more complicated than that.

      Eight councillors on the Employment and Appointments Committee decide to set up a seven councillor panel (drawn from the Employment and Appointments Panel).

      These 7 then (after a series of meetings, longlisting, shortlisting, councillor & officer interviews make a recommendation on who will be Chief Executive should be to Council (which also includes those 7).

      Council meet, by which I mean the 66 councillors (or however many out of the 66 turn up for the meting) decide to accept (or reject) the recommendation. The job is then offered to the candidate, who can say yes or no. The candidate might have to serve out a period of 3 months notice with their current employer.

      So don’t hold your breath as applications are still open!

      I also left out £15,000 which goes to Penna to help them and the LGA’s involvement too.

      No I haven’t seen “that email” yet.

  4. I appreciate your Frustration at the lack of attention being paid to your concern, but ” ALL CHILDREN ” are our FUTURE and should always be given a High Priority and lets not FORGET more Mature and Vulnerable Citizens, they maybe our elders, however they still have a lot to contribute to our FUTURE’s.

    • As for “FACE-MAN” Not one person is or can be left out of this matter.

    • Children can’t vote though.

      Well apart from 16/17 year olds in Scotland’s independence referendum.

  5. […] It is possible that at some future point six (or more) councillors will request a call in of this decision. However the Coordinating Committee would decide such a call in and is now short of the two parent governor representatives required to hear a call in on such a matter, you can read this blog post about the questions I asked of Cllr Tony Smith earlier in the week about that. […]


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