UPDATED: Parents beg Wirral Council to keep Lyndale open

UPDATED: Parents beg Wirral Council to keep Lyndale open

Lyndale parents Chrissie Woodland, Shelley Standen, Chantelle Smith, Maureen Fearon and seven-year-old Scott Howell.

Parents Chrissie Woodland, Maureen Fearon and Shelley Standen.

First published in News
Last updated
Wirral Globe: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

PARENTS of pupils at a Wirral special needs school facing closure have made one final plea for the council to stop their "living nightmares" over the uncertainty of whether their child will be placed in what they deem an unsuitable environment.

A twelve-week consultation into the future of the Lyndale School in Eastham closes on June 25 but parents this week pleaded with council officers to listen to their views and save the closure-threatened school.

The final meeting, held in Bromborough on Monday evening, saw a heated debate take place over the school that has become a second home to many of Wirral's most vulnerable children.

Many believe closing Lyndale is a "done deal" but Julia Hassall, Wirral's director of children's services, said no decision would be made until the end of the "open and transparent" consultation.

Parents had made a public plea for Wirral's 66 elected members to attend Monday's meeting but just four turned up, all speaking in favour of the school.

They were Eastham councillors Dave Mitchell, Phil Gilchrist and Chris Carubia and Wallasey Conservative councillor Paul Hayes.

Former councillors Ian Lewis and Tom Harney - chair of Governors at Lyndale - also attended the meeting.

There had been talk of the possibility of "recreating" Lyndale in its entirety at another site but Lib Dem leader Phil Gilchrist said this would not suffice.

He said: "What the parents want is what their children are having now and not a pale imitation."

Wirral Council has blamed the decision to consult on the closure on Lyndale on changes in government funding and falling roll numbers but parents and staff deny numbers are falling, instead stating that more children are now looking to join the school.

If Lyndale closed, parents would be expected to send their children to either Ellery Park or Stanley School, both of which they believe are unsuitable for their children's needs.

Chantelle Smith, whose seven-year-old son Scott attends Lyndale, said: "I have been to Stanley School, the facilities are absolutely fabulous but I would be absolutely petrified to leave Scott there. He would definitely not go to Ellery Park. It would be a massive risk for Scott to go to that school."

Making one final plea to the council, Chantelle said: "We're begging, please don't close Lyndale."

Julia Hassall also revealed that an independent consultant has been hired to look at the options and produce a report to cabinet at a cost of "up to" £10,000. 

In a statement released today, Ms Hassall said: "We have engaged an independent consultant to produce a separate report that will be considered when cabinet makes its decision on how to proceed over Lyndale.

"The independent consultant was engaged by us in response to concerns from parents that the council was going to be entirely ‘judge and jury’ in this matter. The consultant is being given whatever access they need to Lyndale, and other schools, and to Lyndale parents.

"We felt that an independent view was needed on the options, and whether any alternative we are proposing meets the criteria laid down in the SEN improvement test, ie, that any option we are considering  was as good as if not better than current provision.

"The consultant we have appointed was not known to us before being engaged, but has considerable experience of Children and Young People’s Services, and is very experienced in special education and school resourcing issues."

Cabinet is not expected to meet to discuss the consultation findings until September.

If Wirral's ruling cabinet agrees to close Lyndale it, it will close at the end of the summer next year and children would be transferred to a new school in September 2015.

Following the meeting, parent governor Chrissie Woodland told the Globe: "We don't have any faith in this consultation period - we are all living nightmares.

"Most of the parents don't want their kids going to Ellery Park so Stanley is our only option but because of the autistic children that are there they require less stimulation than our children - you just can't mix the two.

"The children at Stanley and Ellery Park are going to have to see seizures and resuscitations and feeding tubes and medicines and stuff that they're just not used to. Their parents are frightened because they are going to be traumatised."

Chrissie added: "We're just one big family at Lyndale and the staff know each child so well. We've been through so much and they're splitting us up. We're a family and they're going to destroy that."

The consultation closes on June 25. Visit wirralgov.uk and click on "Consultations" to have your say.

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The consultation will close on Wednesday, June 25.

You can view and take part in the consultation by clicking here.

Feedback can be sent by post to The Lyndale School Consultation, Children and Young People’s Department, Hamilton Building, Conway Street, Birkenhead, CH41 1FD, or by email to specialreview@wirral.gov.uk

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What has happened since the closure threat was first announced in December?

December 12: Wirral Council announced it was “minded” to close the school.
December 16: A petition to save the school reaches 3,000 signatures (it now has 6,443).
December 20: Parents ask the council for more time before a report is submitted to cabinet.
January 16: Wirral’s ruling cabinet agrees to consult on the closure of Lyndale.
January 21: Tory lead describes closing Lyndale as an "act of educational vandalism".
January 29: Opposition councillors “call-in” the decision and ask for it to be reviewed.
February 4:  Call-in meeting cancelled after bureaucratic bungling means council is in breach of its own constitution.
February 11: Education Secretary Michael Gove pledges his support for the school.
February 14: Wirral South MP Alison McGovern chairs a public meeting over Lyndale’s future.
February 27: Co-ordinating committee uphold cabinet’s decision in rearranged call-in meeting.
April 2: Wirral Council launches 12-week consultation.
April 4: Lyndale parents brand closure consultation 'misleading'.
May 16: Lyndale parents' dismay at Wirral's stay-away councillors.

Comments (12)

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10:44am Tue 17 Jun 14

Growl Tiger says...

Another “independent consultant” who will say exactly what you want them to say because you are paying them to say it! Is there no-one in the Council capable of making a rational decision without the need to bring in someone from the private sector?

If senior officers are not prepared to take responsibility for making decisions why are we paying them such huge salaries? Take a look on the Council’s web site under Chief Officer Pay. That's where all the money is going plus the outside payments to firms of solicitors, barristers and so called "independent consultants".
Another “independent consultant” who will say exactly what you want them to say because you are paying them to say it! Is there no-one in the Council capable of making a rational decision without the need to bring in someone from the private sector? If senior officers are not prepared to take responsibility for making decisions why are we paying them such huge salaries? Take a look on the Council’s web site under Chief Officer Pay. That's where all the money is going plus the outside payments to firms of solicitors, barristers and so called "independent consultants". Growl Tiger
  • Score: 11

11:43am Tue 17 Jun 14

Llamedos 1 says...

Only 4 existing councillors turned up.....what an utter disgrace given the importance of this decision to the children, families and indeed staff from Lyndale. I note ex councillor Ian Lewis turned up....what a bunch of fools the Leasowe electorate are for not returning him, one of the very few councillors who care.
Good luck to all the campaigners for Lyndale. I sincerely hope your hard fought campaign is successful.
Only 4 existing councillors turned up.....what an utter disgrace given the importance of this decision to the children, families and indeed staff from Lyndale. I note ex councillor Ian Lewis turned up....what a bunch of fools the Leasowe electorate are for not returning him, one of the very few councillors who care. Good luck to all the campaigners for Lyndale. I sincerely hope your hard fought campaign is successful. Llamedos 1
  • Score: 7

12:37pm Tue 17 Jun 14

Growl Tiger says...

In the revised article Ms Hassall goes to great pains to explain to us exactly why an outside “independent consultant” has been engaged. However, she does not explain why she doesn’t know how much his advice is going to cost. Was this not negotiated when he was appointed?

I still ask why we are paying such high salaries to people who will seldom use their own experience to make a decision. If they are not experienced enough to take decisions then they shouldn’t be in post.
In the revised article Ms Hassall goes to great pains to explain to us exactly why an outside “independent consultant” has been engaged. However, she does not explain why she doesn’t know how much his advice is going to cost. Was this not negotiated when he was appointed? I still ask why we are paying such high salaries to people who will seldom use their own experience to make a decision. If they are not experienced enough to take decisions then they shouldn’t be in post. Growl Tiger
  • Score: 7

12:49pm Tue 17 Jun 14

Sheland says...

Yes, the fab Ian Lewis turned up. Why he was not voted back in, I will never know. Ian has fully supported myself on numerous things and has been a massive help supporting us Lyndale Parents and families. I cannot thank him enough. Shame on all the Wirral Councillors that failed to come along and see Lyndale School and our children for themselves. How can you make a decision in something, when you have never even been to the place or met the children, Labour Councillors need to start thinking about what's going in and try making a decision that they think is right, rather than following and doing what their leader says! It's so political, it's disgusting. This isn't about politics, it's about saving my daughters much needed school, her future! We at Lyndale will continue to fight for our school and we will do what it takes to save our school!
Yes, the fab Ian Lewis turned up. Why he was not voted back in, I will never know. Ian has fully supported myself on numerous things and has been a massive help supporting us Lyndale Parents and families. I cannot thank him enough. Shame on all the Wirral Councillors that failed to come along and see Lyndale School and our children for themselves. How can you make a decision in something, when you have never even been to the place or met the children, Labour Councillors need to start thinking about what's going in and try making a decision that they think is right, rather than following and doing what their leader says! It's so political, it's disgusting. This isn't about politics, it's about saving my daughters much needed school, her future! We at Lyndale will continue to fight for our school and we will do what it takes to save our school! Sheland
  • Score: 5

1:36pm Tue 17 Jun 14

uncatom says...

Shame on them ! alas there are no freebies involved, no hospitality, no free footie tickets, and no to land be sold off, unfortunately they don't do decency unless there is something in return, keep up the fight good luck.
Shame on them ! alas there are no freebies involved, no hospitality, no free footie tickets, and no to land be sold off, unfortunately they don't do decency unless there is something in return, keep up the fight good luck. uncatom
  • Score: 3

1:58pm Tue 17 Jun 14

Growl Tiger says...

I have read Ian Lewis’ blog and John Brace’s regarding the meeting. It would seem that WBC has invented a new form of documentation – it’s called “high level notes”. One would have thought in the interests of openness and transparency important consultation meetings would have full Minutes available to all. No, “high level notes” are for cabinet only. I am beginning to think these high level notes will be dictated by a soprano and written in whitewash.
I have read Ian Lewis’ blog and John Brace’s regarding the meeting. It would seem that WBC has invented a new form of documentation – it’s called “high level notes”. One would have thought in the interests of openness and transparency important consultation meetings would have full Minutes available to all. No, “high level notes” are for cabinet only. I am beginning to think these high level notes will be dictated by a soprano and written in whitewash. Growl Tiger
  • Score: 8

2:49pm Tue 17 Jun 14

Sheland says...

Yes that's correct, we asked for copies of the notes that had been made at all meetings. The answer was, they weren't minutes, just notes for them to collate. I don't believe a word they say, us parents aren't soft. We have also asked for a copy of the paper going to cabinet. Julia Hassall has said we will have a paper copy of this a week before cabinet gets it! Doesn't leave us with any time at all to do anything about the paper.
Yes that's correct, we asked for copies of the notes that had been made at all meetings. The answer was, they weren't minutes, just notes for them to collate. I don't believe a word they say, us parents aren't soft. We have also asked for a copy of the paper going to cabinet. Julia Hassall has said we will have a paper copy of this a week before cabinet gets it! Doesn't leave us with any time at all to do anything about the paper. Sheland
  • Score: 4

5:10pm Wed 18 Jun 14

Growl Tiger says...

So where are the 7 comments please? Did "someone" from WBC get upset again and demand removal. Ms Hassall came back and answered some of the questions I posed, but that doesn't mean postings should be removed. Can Wirral Globe please replace them?
So where are the 7 comments please? Did "someone" from WBC get upset again and demand removal. Ms Hassall came back and answered some of the questions I posed, but that doesn't mean postings should be removed. Can Wirral Globe please replace them? Growl Tiger
  • Score: 4

6:00pm Wed 18 Jun 14

Growl Tiger says...

Thank you Wirral Globe.
Thank you Wirral Globe. Growl Tiger
  • Score: 4

6:51pm Wed 18 Jun 14

Joeblogg85 says...

Growl Tiger wrote:
Another “independent consultant” who will say exactly what you want them to say because you are paying them to say it! Is there no-one in the Council capable of making a rational decision without the need to bring in someone from the private sector?

If senior officers are not prepared to take responsibility for making decisions why are we paying them such huge salaries? Take a look on the Council’s web site under Chief Officer Pay. That's where all the money is going plus the outside payments to firms of solicitors, barristers and so called "independent consultants".
Hey Growl,

I obviously don't know who you are but I am very impressed with your ability to quickly grasp the key points in this debate.

Given the sizeable amounts of the Senior Officer salaries on offer at Wirral Council I too am amazed why none of them have the guts to make a decision without bringing in a Consultant to do their dirty work for them.

It has been clear from the outset that Juile Hassall was not going to be hung out to dry over this, hence the bringing in of said Consultant.

My understanding was that Wirral Council made a statement some time ago that there was to be a cull on the extensive use of Consultants but here we are again giving money away when it should be the senior officers responsibility.

Why do we pay these people circa £100k per annum when they are clearly not capable of making a decision.
[quote][p][bold]Growl Tiger[/bold] wrote: Another “independent consultant” who will say exactly what you want them to say because you are paying them to say it! Is there no-one in the Council capable of making a rational decision without the need to bring in someone from the private sector? If senior officers are not prepared to take responsibility for making decisions why are we paying them such huge salaries? Take a look on the Council’s web site under Chief Officer Pay. That's where all the money is going plus the outside payments to firms of solicitors, barristers and so called "independent consultants".[/p][/quote]Hey Growl, I obviously don't know who you are but I am very impressed with your ability to quickly grasp the key points in this debate. Given the sizeable amounts of the Senior Officer salaries on offer at Wirral Council I too am amazed why none of them have the guts to make a decision without bringing in a Consultant to do their dirty work for them. It has been clear from the outset that Juile Hassall was not going to be hung out to dry over this, hence the bringing in of said Consultant. My understanding was that Wirral Council made a statement some time ago that there was to be a cull on the extensive use of Consultants but here we are again giving money away when it should be the senior officers responsibility. Why do we pay these people circa £100k per annum when they are clearly not capable of making a decision. Joeblogg85
  • Score: 4

7:29pm Wed 18 Jun 14

Growl Tiger says...

Joeblogg85
Thank you for your kind comments. I have experienced WBC’s Senior Officers and a certain local councillor who was out to change things for his benefit and had the officers in his grasp. Once you have gone through that scenario you quickly learn to read between the lines.

I came to Wirral 5 years ago trusting the Council – believed the lies they told me. It did not take long for me to realise it was all bull ****. I am now a wiser person and until WBC changes its ways I will continue to use that experience. Again, thank you - we all need to keep up these comments – I do believe they read them – the one on Lyndale School yesterday got rewritten twice! I think Ms Smartie Pants felt the heat! Love Growl.
Joeblogg85 Thank you for your kind comments. I have experienced WBC’s Senior Officers and a certain local councillor who was out to change things for his benefit and had the officers in his grasp. Once you have gone through that scenario you quickly learn to read between the lines. I came to Wirral 5 years ago trusting the Council – believed the lies they told me. It did not take long for me to realise it was all bull ****. I am now a wiser person and until WBC changes its ways I will continue to use that experience. Again, thank you - we all need to keep up these comments – I do believe they read them – the one on Lyndale School yesterday got rewritten twice! I think Ms Smartie Pants felt the heat! Love Growl. Growl Tiger
  • Score: 4

11:57pm Wed 18 Jun 14

Joeblogg85 says...

Growl Tiger wrote:
Joeblogg85
Thank you for your kind comments. I have experienced WBC’s Senior Officers and a certain local councillor who was out to change things for his benefit and had the officers in his grasp. Once you have gone through that scenario you quickly learn to read between the lines.

I came to Wirral 5 years ago trusting the Council – believed the lies they told me. It did not take long for me to realise it was all bull ****. I am now a wiser person and until WBC changes its ways I will continue to use that experience. Again, thank you - we all need to keep up these comments – I do believe they read them – the one on Lyndale School yesterday got rewritten twice! I think Ms Smartie Pants felt the heat! Love Growl.
Your welcome.

Interesting comments Growl!

All the best.

Joe
[quote][p][bold]Growl Tiger[/bold] wrote: Joeblogg85 Thank you for your kind comments. I have experienced WBC’s Senior Officers and a certain local councillor who was out to change things for his benefit and had the officers in his grasp. Once you have gone through that scenario you quickly learn to read between the lines. I came to Wirral 5 years ago trusting the Council – believed the lies they told me. It did not take long for me to realise it was all bull ****. I am now a wiser person and until WBC changes its ways I will continue to use that experience. Again, thank you - we all need to keep up these comments – I do believe they read them – the one on Lyndale School yesterday got rewritten twice! I think Ms Smartie Pants felt the heat! Love Growl.[/p][/quote]Your welcome. Interesting comments Growl! All the best. Joe Joeblogg85
  • Score: 2

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