OPPOSITION councillors are continuing their fight to save a Wirral special needs school from closure as they call on town hall chiefs to rethink what they call the “fundamentally wrong” decision.

Heartache, anger and a sense of betrayal were felt by parents and staff at the Lyndale School after Wirral Council ruled it was in the childrens’ best interests to close it down.

Nine members of the cabinet had the final say on the Eastham school, voting unanimously to proceed with its closure in January 2016.

But opposition councillors believe the school should be saved, opting to use their “call-in” procedures to delay the cabinet decision, force further debate on the issue and hopefully save parents from months of upheaval as they fight to find a way to prevent the axe falling.

Wallasey Conservative councillor Paul Hayes, who initiated the call in, told the Globe he will do everything in his power to keep Lyndale open.

He said: “The cabinet’s decision to close Lyndale is fundamentally wrong. It beggars belief that they are willing to let Wirral lose such a fantastic school which cares for some of the borough’s most vulnerable children.

“I will continue to fight this closure and will use every available opportunity to urge the cabinet to think again.”

More than 25 councillors have signed the call-in so far. 

It will now go before Wirral Council's co-ordinating committee for further debate.

Lib Dem leader Cllr Phil Gilchrist said: “I went to two of the local consultation meetings. I was struck by the tone and manner in which anxious parents were spoken down to.

“The picture is clear - a long standing plan has been dusted off.

“Parents requests for constructive debate have been sidelined over time.

“The uncertainty and distress created over many years has to be challenged.”

Fellow Liberal Democrat Cllr Chris Carubia, who represents the Eastham ward, said: "I attended a consultation meeting and also the special cabinet meeting.

"As a new councillor I am appalled at the way these meetings have been conducted, I thought a consultation required some form of discussion with the interested parties.

"It was not the case here,evidenced by the total absence of discussion by cabinet members and the handing out of the pre printed descision on closure that landed like a slap in the face."

The call-in raises questions over the appointment of independent consultant Lynn Wright, who Wirral Council paid “up to £10,000” to give her views on the Lyndale situation.

During Thursday’s meeting, 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.

Cllr Leah Fraser said: "The cabinet were able to produce a typed and printed recommendation at the end of the meeting, this would indicate that they had already made their minds up before listening to presentations made.  

"I’m not surprised, this is what the cabinet and officers have wanted all along and have been working towards this result for a long time, the whole exercise has been a charade from beginning to end."

Opposition members says the pre-printed document shows insufficient regard was given to the presentations made during the meeting, including the emotional and heart-warming contribution from parent representative Zoe Anderson.

Addressing cabinet, parent governor Zoe had 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 the situation we have found ourselves in.”

Presenting the recommendation for closure, Cllr Tony Smith, cabinet member for children and family services, 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.”

With its physiotherapy and hydrotherapy rooms, light rooms, soft play area and £80,000 sensory garden – funded by generous Globe readers – Lyndale parents say the school is a place of learning, comfort, safety and for many of its pupils, a second home.

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.

The school’s chairman of governors, Tom Harney, said:  “It is another failure in planning by Wirral Borough Council”.


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.
August 6: Lyndale consultation a 'complete farce' say Tory councillors.
August 26: Parents beg council not to break their Lyndale family.
September 4: Heartbreak as cabient votes unanimously to close Lyndale.
eptember 5: Voice of the Globe: Lyndale families sold down the river.