The Labour Cabinet in RCT today passed the proposals to reorganise schools in Rhondda and Tonyrefail taking sixth forms away from Tonypandy, Porth and Ferndale and forming a range of age 3 to 16 and 3 to 19 schools. Despite them having stated all along that the Education Minister would have the final say on the proposals because they involved sixth forms the Minister had other ideas and bounced the decision back to the Cabinet.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Karen Roberts has been at the fore front of the campaign against the proposals and spoke against them at Cabinet again today, along with two former Headteachers. She said:
"It was obvious from the start that they were going to pass the plans. Only one Cabinet Member apart from the one responsible for Education spoke ,the rest merely put their hands in the air when required.
"Not one single Labour Councillor from the wards affected by the proposals bothered to turn up. Not to oppose the plans on behalf of the people they are elected to represent nor indeed to give their backing. It shows a total disregard on their part for the people who put them there.
"Politically they thought they had this sown up. Plaid's main voter base is at the top of the Rhondda Fach - Treorchy school is keeping its sixth form and is not going to be amalgamated with any primary schools, people there are no against it. At the other end of the area affected is Tonyrefail - they are getting a brand new school, unlike Tonypandy and Porth and so there has not been a great deal of opposition there. Plaid have picked up a number of new members in Tonyrefail recently who they would not want to upset.
"Leanne Wood showed up at the Assembly protest and made a big thing of having her photo taken, but Plaid have done nothing at all to really help with the campaign, and today not one Plaid Councillor turned up to speak.
"Only one Councillor did turn up and speak against the plans - Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor Mike Powell. Mike represents the Trallwn ward which is not in the affected area, but that doesn't stop him fighting against something which is so blatantly unfair.
"Former Head Chris Hale said it all during her 5 minute speech to Cabinet. A lifelong Labour supporter she is disgusted by the fact that it is a Labour Council making decisions such as this, and previously the decision to cut nursery education. She told them in no uncertain terms that she will never vote Labour again.
"These Labour members are not interested in serving their community, they are there to serve their own self-interest and pick up a healthy salary for doing so. They are a disgrace. Still, at least the Cabinet Member for Education can go back to her own ward and brag about how she got the people there another brand new school. The rest of us don't matter one jot to them."