This is a report of a recent protest against school closures in Gwynedd (the county council Bangor is in). These cuts are similar to ones proposed by several other councils in Wales, partly as a result of the lower budgetary settlement from Assembley Government (and in turn from Westminster). There are other reports and info at http://www.socialistpartywales.org.uk
Report by Iain Dalton & Heledd Williams
On Thursday 13th December, over 600 parents, children and other protesters marched through Caernarfon to protest against the closure of 29 schools and the federalising (one school over several sites) of many others. The march saw banners from many different schools protesting against their individual school closures and placards condemning the Plaid Cymru led Gwynedd Council who were making these cuts. The march ended in a rally outside the council chambers where council members were meeting to discuss this issue. This action and other protests have seen the council extend the consultation period for this education 'reorganisation', but this will not be the end of this series of escalting protests.We spoke to several parents on the demonstration:John Allport, from Ysgol Borth-y-Gent near Porthmadog in the south of Gwynedd explained that council was giving innaccurate reasons for closures, saying that schools were suffering falling attendence rolls. On the contrary said John, the school had full attendence and was a succesful school. Anna Jones and Ffion Jones from Ysgol Baladeulyn in Nantlle ar Agor explained that the school is the heart of their village and is used for community activities after school hours. Under the reorganisation plan their children would have to travel 4 miles to the nearest school. With buses coming to the village once every two hours, chldren would have the choice of arriving at school over 45 minutes early or almost the same amount late!Louise Warren, Dawn Williams, Emma Pryce and David Connor from Ysgol Rhiwlas told us how the council had not maintened facilities for many years so that they have fallen into disrepair, which is the excuse they are using to close the school. There had been an attempt to raise funds to repair a portakabin, but the council pulled out of their part of the funding. Under the plan their school will be merged with two others, and a new school built 5 miles away, but why, they ask, do they have the funds for this but not maintaining the schools parents actually want.
Socialist Party Wales says:
- No cuts in education in Gwynedd
- For the Welsh Assembley to provide the necessary funds to keep primary schools open and reduce class sizes.
- Democratic control of schools by parents and staff
- Local campaigns should put up candidates in next year's local elections on an anti-cuts platform, linking up with publicsector workers ie. postal workers, civil servants etc.
- Link up the campaigns across Gwynedd and across Wales.
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