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UPDATED: Opposition councillors launch last minute bid to save Lyndale
A LAST minute bid to save a Wirral special needs school has been submitted by opposition members calling for the borough’s ruling cabinet to recognise the huge opposition to plans to close the school.
The consultation on the future of the Lyndale School, in Eastham, closed last week after Wirral Council announced it was “minded” to close it, citing a drop in pupil numbers and a change in Government funding.
More than 10,590 people signed a petition to keep the school open, with 89% of Globe readers also believing it should be saved.
A “Notice of Motion” - written by Wallasey Conservative Cllr Paul Hayes and supported by nine other councillors, including Tory leader Jeff Green – calls on the cabinet to “end the anguish and uncertainty suffered by pupils and their parents and carers” by confirming that Lyndale will stay open.
It will be discussed by full council when they meet on Monday, July 14.
Cllr Hayes said: “Having attended the consultation meeting at the Lyndale School, I am more convinced than ever that this very special, small school must be kept open.
"The alternatives to Lyndale just aren't there - it educates and cares for those children with the most profound learning difficulties, often suffering from serious ongoing health issues.
“We must use every possible option to persuade the Cabinet to think again, to listen to the parents and staff and reject the plan for closure.
"It takes courage to admit when you are wrong but I hope the cabinet will do this and stop the distress and upset this issue has caused to so many people in Wirral. I will be the first to congratulate the cabinet if they do."
But Cllr Phil Davies, leader of the council, said it would be inappropriate and potentially illegal for the cabinet to make a decision on the future of Lyndale before the consultation exercise had come to an end.
- Council leader Phil Davies says it would be wrong for cabinet to make a decision on the future of Lyndale at this time.
He said: "They are asking that the cabinet confirms that the school will remain open when we next meet but I can't give a commitment to that at the moment.
"We are currently in a consultation exercise. We are having a special cabinet meeting on September 4 to consider the outcome of the consultation exercise so I can't give a commitment now that will say it will stay open.
"It is important to maintain an open mind around all of the options to do with Lyndale and come back to that special meeting on September 4 to make a decision.
"I think it would be completely wrong and would negate the whole consultation exercise if we just made a decision now."
Cllr Davies added: "We promised people we would do a proper consultation exercise looking at all of the options on the table and I just think it would be unfair to all the people who have put a huge amount of time and effort into that to just give an answer now.
"To make a decision now I think would create all sorts of issues on the legality of that."
Julia Hassall, Wirral’s director of children’s services, added: "We are currently considering the options available in relation to the Lyndale School.
"We would like to reassure parents that we are aiming to resolve the long term future of Lyndale as expediently as possible, to avoid any more doubt and uncertainty than is necessary.
"A report will go to cabinet in September once we have had a chance to look at all the options."
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.
June 17: Parents beg Wirral Council to keep Lyndale open.
June 20: Petition signed by 10,598 people presented to Graham Burgess.