Councillor Paul Hayes “The aspiration should not be for imitation for the Lyndale School, we have the real thing”
On the day that Wirral Council fires the starting gun in the local elections with the publication of the notice of election giving candidates until 4pm on Thursday 9th April to submit their nomination papers, I thought it would be good to look back at an issue that has divided the political parties on Wirral Council which was the decision to close Lyndale School.
When Wirral Council met last month to decide its budget for 2015/16 the Conservatives submitted an amendment to Labour’s schools budget. As the amendment was short I will repeat it here:
Council recognises the unique and caring environment provided by The Lyndale School to children with profound and multiple learning difficulties. Council acknowledges the value of this facility and affirms its belief that such provision should remain at The Lyndale School.
Council, having regard to the overwhelming support given to the campaign to keep The Lyndale School open by the public of Wirral recognises that The Lyndale School should remain open and wishes to bring to an end the anguish and uncertainty that has been heaped on pupils and their parents and carers throughout this whole sorry saga.
Accordingly, Council requests Cabinet to issue a Revocation Notice to consult on proposals to stop all current and planned action being taken to close The Lyndale School immediately. Should this be approved, Cabinet is further requested to instruct officers to commence negotiations with the Schools Forum and other relevant stakeholders in relation to the High Needs Funding Formula so as to identify and secure adequate funding to enable The Lyndale School to remain open from 1 April 2016. The revised High Needs Funding Formula shall be expressly detailed in the Schools Budget for 2016/17.
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Here’s what Councillor Paul Hayes had to say on the Conservative amendment to the Schools Budget:
Mr Mayor, tonight we will expect the usual debates on the principles of budgetary principles for the Council and how we prioritise taxpayers’ money to deliver services, but the fact is Mr Mayor this issue, the Lyndale School is not about money. So much has already been confirmed throughout this entire process both by the Cabinet Member and by council officers.
Mr Mayor, this is about, this isn’t about cuts from above, it’s about choices on the ground, choices in this Town Hall and in this Chamber this evening. It’s about how you choose to care and educate for some of the most vulnerable children in our community, children with some of the most profound and multiple learning difficulties and Mr Mayor surely there can be no doubt that the excellent caring and learning environment provided to the children of Lyndale School for so long should continue to be done so at the Lyndale School in Eastham.
The aspiration should not be for imitation for the Lyndale School, we have the real thing, right here in Wirral. Surely Members will join me in the fight to keep it?
Mr Mayor, the Council needs to listen to the real experts in this issue, the parents, the staff and the carers of the pupils of Lyndale. These families who have stood steadfast in defence of this excellent school. We shouldn’t be blindly accepting the views of an expert consultant who charged us £10,000 for the benefit of her advice and as I’ve learned today an extra £500 when called to give evidence at the call in.
Mr Mayor, the Lyndale campaign was of course and as we’ve heard tonight from other Members been recently boosted by Dawn Hughes and her daughter Ellie, I know that Dawn is in the public gallery this evening. She secured backing of a tribunal in her battle to keep Ellie at the School which gives her so much security and comfort.
Mr Mayor, if a learned and I’m sure very distinguished tribunal judge and its two lay panel members recognise the uniqueness of Lyndale School and the real harm moving children from this environment would cause then why can’t Wirral Council?
Mr Mayor, I know some of the Labour Members are very uncomfortable with the decision to close Lyndale School. I appeal to them to make their votes count tonight. This amendment, this second amendment does not put the Labour Budget at risk, it corrects an appalling decision which should never have been made and it halts the anguish which has been caused upon some of the most vulnerable families in our society. I know that it’s difficult to vote a different way to friends and colleagues in the same group and I should know as I’m probably going to do that at item 7a.
However Mr Mayor, this is too much of an important issue to be decided on imposed party whip or as Councillor Sullivan alluded to the block vote. I note that neither the Leader of the Council nor Councillor Tony Smith (the Cabinet Member) have mentioned the Lyndale School in their contributions earlier. I hope Members will not forget Lyndale amongst the political wrangling of tonight and vote to keep this crucial and vital school community.
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