Panel to review council leaders’ decision over school merger plans

Date:13th July 2011.
Cragg Vale, Junior and Infants School, near Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire.
Date:13th July 2011. Cragg Vale, Junior and Infants School, near Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire.

An urgent review has been called for into the decision made by Calderdale Council’s Cabinet for two upper Calder Valley schools to merge to create a new all-through school.

The proposal to amalgamate Cragg Vale Junior and Infant School with Calder High School, Mytholmroyd, was given the go-ahead earlier this month.

However, Councillor Ashley Evans (Lib Dem, Warley), a member of the Children and Young people Scrutiny Panel, has called for the decision to be re-examined at a meeting on Monday.

The decision has also been backed by Councillors James Baker (Lib Dem, Warley) and Coun Paul Bellenger (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland.

Coun Evans, who is also Calderdale’s Liberal Democrat group education spokesperson said: “In spite of concerns raised by parents during the consultation period, the authority still intends to go ahead with the closure and relocation of Cragg Vale School.

“I believe that parents succumbed to pressure from the authority – they gave up, feeling that their concerns were not going to be taken into account.”

“I share their concerns about the impact on the children and their community and locating a junior school within a senior school environment.

“There is also a feeling that the local authority is overstating the number of additional primary places needed and I am worried about the impact this will have on other local primary schools such as Burnley Road and Scout Road, potentially affecting their viability.

“My overriding concern is that this move could be the thin end of the wedge in relation to closing down small rural schools with the inevitable effect on communities and the provision of a small school education from which many young children benefit.”

Cabinet member for Children’s and Young People’s Services Coun Megan Swift along with Council officers will be at the meeting which will be held at Halifax Town Hall at 6pm.

The scrutiny panel will have three options at the meeting: Pass the original decision, refer the decision back to Cabinet setting out its concerns and financial implications or refer the matter to full council.