A SUMMER of anguish ended in heartbreak as Wirral’s ruling cabinet voted to close the Lyndale School.

Tears were shed as members voted unanimously to close the Eastham special needs school when they met on Thursday.

Parents and pupils had hoped for a miracle when they arrived at Wallasey town hall but it was not to be, with their worst nightmares now coming true.

It took just minutes for cabinet members to come to their decision, which many believe was a foregone conclusion.

They had spent close to two hours listening to parents, directors and independent consultants, as well as watching a video made by South Wirral High staff showing the importance of the facility.

Parent governor Zoe Anderson spoke on behalf of Lyndale parents, giving a moving and heart-warming account of what each pupil faces each day.

She said: “The biggest thing the school has is trust. The parents trust the school, they trust the expertise of the staff.

“We don’t have that trust and respect for the system and situation we have found ourselves in.”

Council leader Cllr Phil Davies said members had entered the meeting with “open minds” but no debate took place and instead, a pre-printed recommendation for closure was handed out to both councillors and parents.

Councillor Tony Smith, cabinet member for education, said: “This has been a difficult decision to make, and we would like to affirm our continued intention to work positively with the families and the children affected, and reassure parents of our continued commitment to their child’s wellbeing and education.”

A recommendation to publish statutory notices on the closure of the school was seconded by Cllr George Davies before being passed unanimously by the nine Labour councillors present.

Cries of “shame” came from parents while others stormed out in tears.

The school will close in January 2016 with pupils transferred to Elleray Park, Stanley School or other “appropriate” facilities.

But parents do not want their children to go to schools they deem unsuitable, with an emotional Maureen Fearon vowing that her son Robinson –who has cortical dysplasia – will be kept at home before he goes to another school.

The heartbreaking decision comes after Wirral’s director of children’s services Julia Hassall said she was “minded” to close Lyndale, citing a change in funding and a drop in pupil numbers.

There are currently 25 children enrolled at Lyndale – with another due to start this month – all with profound and multiple learning difficulties.

But during Thursday’s meeting, Ms Hassall admitted that the cloud of certainty hanging over Lyndale could have had an impact on numbers.

Dawn Hughes, whose daughter Ellie attends Lyndale, said she was not surprised by the decision.

She said: “We knew that they were going to vote this way. It’s like  a pantomime and they have got it all mapped out before it happens.”

Parents will not be giving up though, with Dawn telling the Globe they will do whatever it takes to save the school that has become a second home to the borough’s most vulnerable children.

Cabinet heard from independent consultant Lynn Wright who was hired at a cost of £10,000 to look into Lyndale’s options.

She said holding six public consultation meetings was a “very generous way to do this” but Dawn said it had all been a farce.

“They’ve had lots of consultation, they’ve listened but they have not heard anything we have said – what happened to debate?”

More than 10,600 people signed a petition to keep Lyndale open, with 89% of Globe readers also believing it should be saved.

A statutory notice will now be published, followed by a second special cabinet meeting in October.

Cllr Phil Davies said: “There will be a further opportunity for people to make representations. We have looked at this with an open mind.

“This is the recommendation we feel is in the best interests of the children.”

Speaking after the meeting, Lyndale's chair of governors and former Eastham councillor Tom Harney said: "I am bitterly disappointed that the cabinet has made this decision without having any plans in place for the real future of the children of this school. 

"It's another failure in planning by Wirral Borough Council."

Discussions are already taking place among opposition councillors to call-in the decision. 

Wallasey Conservative Councillor Paul Hayes said: "I am appalled by this decision. I simply can't understand how the cabinet reached the conclusion to close Lyndale School given not the only the impassioned pleas from parents but also having seen the very persuasive case for the school to remain open.

"It was heartbreaking to witness the parents and staff of Lyndale School crying once the decision was announced.

"It's clear that this decision will lead to unnecessary anxiety for families who have to combat so many unimaginable obstacle in their day to day lives - how can the cabinet have inflicted this upon them?

"I was shocked to learn that the person who was tasked with reviewing the options by the counc was not appointed in conjunction with the parents of Lyndale School. The 'expert's' report was only recently published so there was never an adequate time for people to fully respond to it.

"The consultation was a sham and the decision made by cabinet is clearly flawed."

Paul Nuttall, UKIP MEP for the Northwest and the party’s national education spokesman said Wirral's Labour cabinet should hang-their-heads in shame.

He said: "Labour has form for closing special schools. They claim to be the party for the disadvantaged and yet in their first term of office (1997 – 2005) New Labour closed no less than 117 special schools across the country.

"As the name suggests, special schools aren’t like normal schools, you cannot mark their value against a list of targets and results.

"Only the parents and staff of special schools know what beneficial effect it is having for the disabled children, and as such, theirs are the only voices that should be listened to when consulting about a possible closure.

"The fact that this news comes just a few weeks after the revelation that Wirral council spent nearly £50,000 behind the bar at the Open Golf tournament will leave many people doubtful they have their priorities in order."

Parents are now investigating taking legal action.