Cabinet agrees to consult on closure of Lyndale School

Cabinet agrees to consult on the closure of Lyndale School

Cabinet agrees to consult on the closure of Lyndale School

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

A HEART-wrenching plea from the parent of a severely disabled child failed to change politicians' minds this evening as Wirral Council’s ruling cabinet gave the go-ahead to consult on the closure of a special needs school.

Wirral Council dropped a bombshell in December when it announced it was to begin closure procedures at Lyndale School after a predicted “budget shortfall” of £72,000.

Tonight, cabinet agreed to start a 12-week consultation on the future of the school.

Dawn Hughes addressed the cabinet on behalf of parents and explained how her 11-year-old daughter relies heavily on the excellent care and support given by staff and governors at the Eastham school.

She said it would take her longer than the five minutes allowed to fully explain all of the ways that the school fulfils the needs of not only her daughter, but all 24 children who currently attend Lyndale.

“Many people see our children just sitting there with no sense of what happens around them but I know when Ellie looks at me with a twinkle in her eye that she wants to play.

“I ask you to put yourselves in their shoes for one minute.

“Imagine being completely reliant on others. Imagine going to a strange place where you know no one and no one understands you when you are trying to tell them how you feel.

“I ask you not as councillors but as parents, grandparents and decent human beings please do not close our school.”

Ms Hughes also asked for the 12-week consultation to be extended to allow interested parties more time to put their views forward but both council leader Phil Davies and Councillor Tony Smith - cabinet member for children and family services - said they felt 12 weeks was a suitable length of time.

The £72,000 deficit has been caused by a reduction in the number of pupils and is linked to changes in the way funding is allocated by Government.

Julia Hassall, Wirral’s director of children’s services told the cabinet that the “shortfall” has the potential to increase to £232,000 based on the number of children currently on the school roll.

Ms Hassall said the needs of the children must be “at the centre” of any decision that is made and that the consultation must be “open and transparent.”

The Globe understands that the 12-week consultation will start in February.

After the meeting, Ms Hughes told the Globe she was “not surprised” with cabinet’s decision and said she knew it was a “foregone conclusion”.

Peter Crawford, chairman of Taiko Dragons – a charity that carries out music therapy at Lyndale each week – said: “Lyndale School is no ordinary school. It is a school which provides a service for some of the most vulnerable children in Wirral. It is as it were in our words like ‘an intensive care unit’ within the school system which is vital for Wirral’s very special pupils who need one to one help in many cases.

“It plays a vital role as a stable factor which is essential.

“The only ones who would benefit from Lyndale School’s closure would be a building firm, building the new extensions attached to other schools.

“Any family in the area of Wirral may be forced to require to call on this school which is really a safety net of unbelievable quality for children whose conditions merit them attending here.

“Under no circumstances should closure be an option.”

More than 5,300 people have signed an online petition against axing Lyndale.

In 2004, Globe readers donated more than £80,000 for the school during a fundraising campaign to provide pupils with a sensory garden

Comments (9)

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9:46pm Thu 16 Jan 14

Thepleb says...

Councillors Christine Jones, Adrian Jones, Tony Smith, Pat Hackett, Brian Kenny, Phil Davies, Ann Mclachlan, Chris Meaden, Harry Smith, George Davies THE CABINET hang your heads in shame how low can you go? Only four weeks ago £100,000 surplus funds were located along with Shergar and Lord Lucan and promptly deposited in the Open Golf Pot the word PRIORITIES comes to mind.
Councillors Christine Jones, Adrian Jones, Tony Smith, Pat Hackett, Brian Kenny, Phil Davies, Ann Mclachlan, Chris Meaden, Harry Smith, George Davies THE CABINET hang your heads in shame how low can you go? Only four weeks ago £100,000 surplus funds were located along with Shergar and Lord Lucan and promptly deposited in the Open Golf Pot the word PRIORITIES comes to mind. Thepleb
  • Score: 9

10:26am Fri 17 Jan 14

Mojo68 says...

As a parent of one of these highly vulnerable children attending this amazing school, I am totally devastated and sat reading this article in floods of tears. I cannot believe that this council can be so heartless and indeed ruthless in even considering this action. We have heard all the stories about public money being wasted, the mobile phone bill being one and of course the so called "Downton Abbey Staircase". In a time where drastic cuts are being called for why haven't they recalled all those mobile phones.....that alone would pay for Lyndale to be kept open. And now I read that £100'000 has gone towards a golf competition....well maybe our children should some open air lessons on the greens and some sensory sessions in the bunkers when it's on!!!
As a parent of one of these highly vulnerable children attending this amazing school, I am totally devastated and sat reading this article in floods of tears. I cannot believe that this council can be so heartless and indeed ruthless in even considering this action. We have heard all the stories about public money being wasted, the mobile phone bill being one and of course the so called "Downton Abbey Staircase". In a time where drastic cuts are being called for why haven't they recalled all those mobile phones.....that alone would pay for Lyndale to be kept open. And now I read that £100'000 has gone towards a golf competition....well maybe our children should some open air lessons on the greens and some sensory sessions in the bunkers when it's on!!! Mojo68
  • Score: 2

11:13am Fri 17 Jan 14

Joeblogg85 says...

As soon as this was mooted it was clear what the outcome was going to be. Lose one of the so-called Super Directors and it's job done. What's the point of further consultation if the decision is made? Just more faffing about. It seems that the only growth industry in Wirral is in Consulting!
As soon as this was mooted it was clear what the outcome was going to be. Lose one of the so-called Super Directors and it's job done. What's the point of further consultation if the decision is made? Just more faffing about. It seems that the only growth industry in Wirral is in Consulting! Joeblogg85
  • Score: 1

11:58am Fri 17 Jan 14

el0u30da says...

This is awful, an absolute disgrace that the council is even considering axing this school - is there any way of turning it into an academy so that it can be saved, or what if funds were raised to cover the shortfall?
This is awful, an absolute disgrace that the council is even considering axing this school - is there any way of turning it into an academy so that it can be saved, or what if funds were raised to cover the shortfall? el0u30da
  • Score: 1

8:10pm Fri 17 Jan 14

Wirralpleb says...

It is genuinely saddening that Wirral Council have decided to enter into a consultation process to close Lyndale School,If the consultation is as good as the recent Wirralwide consultations,closur
e is inevitable. St Mary's School Eastham ,closed,Moreton Day Centre,closed.The consultation period of 12 weeks should take us to April just in time for the Local Elections.
My advice would be for two Independent Councillors to stand,one in Bromborough and one in Eastham standing on this one issue.This would immediately grab the attention of all political parties who despite their reliance on postal votes would have your attention.
Those hoping to stave off closure with local politicians support are to say the least being naive.
It is genuinely saddening that Wirral Council have decided to enter into a consultation process to close Lyndale School,If the consultation is as good as the recent Wirralwide consultations,closur e is inevitable. St Mary's School Eastham ,closed,Moreton Day Centre,closed.The consultation period of 12 weeks should take us to April just in time for the Local Elections. My advice would be for two Independent Councillors to stand,one in Bromborough and one in Eastham standing on this one issue.This would immediately grab the attention of all political parties who despite their reliance on postal votes would have your attention. Those hoping to stave off closure with local politicians support are to say the least being naive. Wirralpleb
  • Score: 1

10:06pm Fri 17 Jan 14

johnbrace says...

I have the entirety of what Dawn Hughes said at the Cabinet meeting on my blog at bit.ly/1mbvV95 . Considering over 5,000 people signed a petition against closure and the reasons that Dawn Hughes gave not to close the school, I was amazed that after hearing what Dawn Hughes had to say, the Labour Cabinet just agreed the recommendations to consult on closure in Julia Hassall's report.

Personally I would've thought that over 5,000 people signing a petition against closure would mean that most politicians* would drop the idea and change whatever policy or budget needs to be changed to keep Lyndale open (and with such a large petition against surely a consultation would just tell them the same thing that a large number of people want it to stay open?) However as they stressed at the Cabinet meeting, it's only a consultation and a decision on closure is yet to be made.

*by most politicians I mean how politics seems to work everywhere but local government on the Wirral. In these other places people still think that politicians are there to represent the interests of the public and to make decisions from the perspective of a member of the public. In other words they do not see politicians as there just to rubber stamp the recommendations of unelected officers. Am I alone in thinking it would be better to have this kind of culture and trust in local democracy on the Wirral that already happens elsewhere or is this asking too much on the "insular peninsula"?

The truth is though, it makes people think why decide to have a consultation on closure if you don't intend to make the decision to close the school in the future?
I have the entirety of what Dawn Hughes said at the Cabinet meeting on my blog at bit.ly/1mbvV95 . Considering over 5,000 people signed a petition against closure and the reasons that Dawn Hughes gave not to close the school, I was amazed that after hearing what Dawn Hughes had to say, the Labour Cabinet just agreed the recommendations to consult on closure in Julia Hassall's report. Personally I would've thought that over 5,000 people signing a petition against closure would mean that most politicians* would drop the idea and change whatever policy or budget needs to be changed to keep Lyndale open (and with such a large petition against surely a consultation would just tell them the same thing that a large number of people want it to stay open?) However as they stressed at the Cabinet meeting, it's only a consultation and a decision on closure is yet to be made. *by most politicians I mean how politics seems to work everywhere but local government on the Wirral. In these other places people still think that politicians are there to represent the interests of the public and to make decisions from the perspective of a member of the public. In other words they do not see politicians as there just to rubber stamp the recommendations of unelected officers. Am I alone in thinking it would be better to have this kind of culture and trust in local democracy on the Wirral that already happens elsewhere or is this asking too much on the "insular peninsula"? The truth is though, it makes people think why decide to have a consultation on closure if you don't intend to make the decision to close the school in the future? johnbrace
  • Score: 1

2:33pm Sat 18 Jan 14

GRobbins says...

Mojo68 wrote:
As a parent of one of these highly vulnerable children attending this amazing school, I am totally devastated and sat reading this article in floods of tears. I cannot believe that this council can be so heartless and indeed ruthless in even considering this action. We have heard all the stories about public money being wasted, the mobile phone bill being one and of course the so called "Downton Abbey Staircase". In a time where drastic cuts are being called for why haven't they recalled all those mobile phones.....that alone would pay for Lyndale to be kept open. And now I read that £100'000 has gone towards a golf competition....well maybe our children should some open air lessons on the greens and some sensory sessions in the bunkers when it's on!!!
Can I just highlight that the "Downtown Abbey Staircase" was only necessary for disabled workers in the council offices, the existing fire exit was suitable for non - disabled workers. The council rightly had to construct it to comply with EU laws regarding disability rights & H&S. The reason for such expense was that the building is listed and requires historical design and materials. Disabled children are much more likely to be employed in Local Authorities in the future because of these measures now.

As for the Open in Hoylake. You mention that the council are spending "£100,000's". If your figure is correct, that really is insignificant to the money that will be reinvested back to the local authority during and after the event. I read earlier it is somewhat in the £75,000,000 range for Wirral and Liverpool.

While I can sympathise with the threat of closure of the school, please make sure that your views do not contradict each other and your figures are correct before you berate every attempt at Wirral trying to survive as a local authority.
[quote][p][bold]Mojo68[/bold] wrote: As a parent of one of these highly vulnerable children attending this amazing school, I am totally devastated and sat reading this article in floods of tears. I cannot believe that this council can be so heartless and indeed ruthless in even considering this action. We have heard all the stories about public money being wasted, the mobile phone bill being one and of course the so called "Downton Abbey Staircase". In a time where drastic cuts are being called for why haven't they recalled all those mobile phones.....that alone would pay for Lyndale to be kept open. And now I read that £100'000 has gone towards a golf competition....well maybe our children should some open air lessons on the greens and some sensory sessions in the bunkers when it's on!!![/p][/quote]Can I just highlight that the "Downtown Abbey Staircase" was only necessary for disabled workers in the council offices, the existing fire exit was suitable for non - disabled workers. The council rightly had to construct it to comply with EU laws regarding disability rights & H&S. The reason for such expense was that the building is listed and requires historical design and materials. Disabled children are much more likely to be employed in Local Authorities in the future because of these measures now. As for the Open in Hoylake. You mention that the council are spending "£100,000's". If your figure is correct, that really is insignificant to the money that will be reinvested back to the local authority during and after the event. I read earlier it is somewhat in the £75,000,000 range for Wirral and Liverpool. While I can sympathise with the threat of closure of the school, please make sure that your views do not contradict each other and your figures are correct before you berate every attempt at Wirral trying to survive as a local authority. GRobbins
  • Score: -1

8:59pm Sat 18 Jan 14

Joeblogg85 says...

johnbrace wrote:
I have the entirety of what Dawn Hughes said at the Cabinet meeting on my blog at bit.ly/1mbvV95 . Considering over 5,000 people signed a petition against closure and the reasons that Dawn Hughes gave not to close the school, I was amazed that after hearing what Dawn Hughes had to say, the Labour Cabinet just agreed the recommendations to consult on closure in Julia Hassall's report.

Personally I would've thought that over 5,000 people signing a petition against closure would mean that most politicians* would drop the idea and change whatever policy or budget needs to be changed to keep Lyndale open (and with such a large petition against surely a consultation would just tell them the same thing that a large number of people want it to stay open?) However as they stressed at the Cabinet meeting, it's only a consultation and a decision on closure is yet to be made.

*by most politicians I mean how politics seems to work everywhere but local government on the Wirral. In these other places people still think that politicians are there to represent the interests of the public and to make decisions from the perspective of a member of the public. In other words they do not see politicians as there just to rubber stamp the recommendations of unelected officers. Am I alone in thinking it would be better to have this kind of culture and trust in local democracy on the Wirral that already happens elsewhere or is this asking too much on the "insular peninsula"?

The truth is though, it makes people think why decide to have a consultation on closure if you don't intend to make the decision to close the school in the future?
Given your experience of Wirral politics, I'm surprised that you're surprised! It wouldn't matter if 50,000 people signed the petition, as the decision is already made. Even if a secret style millionaire came forward to meet the shortfall they would not change the decision. 5,000 people is only 1,000 short of the whole of the Councils last 3 month consultation, yet they want to go out for further consultation. They are just buying time and assure as eggs is eggs, the school will close.
[quote][p][bold]johnbrace[/bold] wrote: I have the entirety of what Dawn Hughes said at the Cabinet meeting on my blog at bit.ly/1mbvV95 . Considering over 5,000 people signed a petition against closure and the reasons that Dawn Hughes gave not to close the school, I was amazed that after hearing what Dawn Hughes had to say, the Labour Cabinet just agreed the recommendations to consult on closure in Julia Hassall's report. Personally I would've thought that over 5,000 people signing a petition against closure would mean that most politicians* would drop the idea and change whatever policy or budget needs to be changed to keep Lyndale open (and with such a large petition against surely a consultation would just tell them the same thing that a large number of people want it to stay open?) However as they stressed at the Cabinet meeting, it's only a consultation and a decision on closure is yet to be made. *by most politicians I mean how politics seems to work everywhere but local government on the Wirral. In these other places people still think that politicians are there to represent the interests of the public and to make decisions from the perspective of a member of the public. In other words they do not see politicians as there just to rubber stamp the recommendations of unelected officers. Am I alone in thinking it would be better to have this kind of culture and trust in local democracy on the Wirral that already happens elsewhere or is this asking too much on the "insular peninsula"? The truth is though, it makes people think why decide to have a consultation on closure if you don't intend to make the decision to close the school in the future?[/p][/quote]Given your experience of Wirral politics, I'm surprised that you're surprised! It wouldn't matter if 50,000 people signed the petition, as the decision is already made. Even if a secret style millionaire came forward to meet the shortfall they would not change the decision. 5,000 people is only 1,000 short of the whole of the Councils last 3 month consultation, yet they want to go out for further consultation. They are just buying time and assure as eggs is eggs, the school will close. Joeblogg85
  • Score: 1

7:44pm Wed 22 Jan 14

Mojo68 says...

In reply to GRobbins, you say that the "Downton Abbey Staircase" was necessary for the disabled council employees, then answer this question please. How many disabled council employees are there? When Graham Burgess was asked this question I believe he chose not to answer. What did these employees do before this staircase was in place? If you believe that the construction of a staircase will allow disabled children to be employed in the future then i'm afraid your living on another planet!! I also fail to see where my comments contradict themselves. Oh and on your comment of reading that the Wirral and Liverpool will benefit to the tune of £75'000'000, well if your figure is correct then maybe the insignificant sum of £72'000 or even £232'000 could be re-invested into the education of our disabled children then maybe when they leave school they can get a job at Wallasey Town Hall and make use of that much needed staircase!!!
In reply to GRobbins, you say that the "Downton Abbey Staircase" was necessary for the disabled council employees, then answer this question please. How many disabled council employees are there? When Graham Burgess was asked this question I believe he chose not to answer. What did these employees do before this staircase was in place? If you believe that the construction of a staircase will allow disabled children to be employed in the future then i'm afraid your living on another planet!! I also fail to see where my comments contradict themselves. Oh and on your comment of reading that the Wirral and Liverpool will benefit to the tune of £75'000'000, well if your figure is correct then maybe the insignificant sum of £72'000 or even £232'000 could be re-invested into the education of our disabled children then maybe when they leave school they can get a job at Wallasey Town Hall and make use of that much needed staircase!!! Mojo68
  • Score: 1

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