Wirral Council’s Cabinet disagree with Lib Dem concerns over how the Lyndale School closure decision was made
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Cabinet – item 7 – Notice of Motion – The Corporate Plan’s Ideals in Practice
The mundanely titled motion The Corporate Plan’s Ideals in Practice was put forward for debate by two Lib Dem councillors at the Council meeting of the 8th December 2014. However no debate had happened then and it had instead been referred to Cabinet. The notice of motion was mostly about the closure of Lyndale School and how the decision had been made.
Cllr Gilchrist’s criticisms of how the decision had been made ranged from questions the parents had submitted in March 2014 which had not been answered, the way the consultation meetings had been chaired, how what was said at the consultation meetings had then been reported back to Cabinet, the imbalance between the financial resources of the Council compared to the financial resources of the parents to challenge the decision and the consultant’s report on the SEN Improvement Test (amongst other points he made).
Cllr Phil Davies responded that he had read that there might be a legal challenge so he asked Mr. Tour for advice. Surjit Tour said that they hadn’t received notification of a claim or a claim itself, but that a decision had been taken by Cabinet about the Lyndale School. He advised that councillors not to speculate in response to the specific points about the potential claim, bearing in mind that they were on notice that there may be a potential claim. Mr Tour asked them to stick to the Corporate Plan issues and engagement issues.
The Cabinet Member, Cllr Tony Smith thanked Mr Tour for his advice. He outlined the history of the decisions on Lyndale School, the consultation meetings and the visits councillors had made. The “significant amount of correspondence” on many issues about Lyndale School was also referred to by Cllr Smith, so was the consultant’s report and the equality impact assessment.
Cllr Phil Davies responded by saying “I do believe that we were faithful to our principles in listening to people. Phil can I just remind you that listening to what people say doesn’t always mean you have to agree with them?” He said he had read the report of the parents, visited Lyndale School, met with the parents and he repeated that he believed the Cabinet had listened but that they “came to a different conclusion than you did Phil but that doesn’t mean to say we didn’t listen.”
He said the decision was based on “sound evidence and thorough analysis” and that “we did understand what the community was saying to us”. Cllr Davies believed that they had been faithful to the principles in the Corporate Plan and that that was the Cabinet’s response.
Not unsurprisingly Cllr Gilchrist disagreed with whether the analysis had been thorough, he also pointed out that there had been issues about the creation of the funding formula and its application across various schools, but as the issue was “parked” he’d see what the outcome would be.
Cllr Phil Davies felt that they’d met the requirements, and whatever happened in the legal case they’d need to respond to that “in due course”. He thanked Cllr Phil Gilchrist for his attendance.
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