How did Councillor Tony Smith answer 2 questions about the Cabinet decision on closure of Lyndale School?
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Council (Wirral Council) 15th December 2014
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
(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?
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  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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