The Welsh Liberal Democrats have accused the Conservatives on Powys County Council of trying to blame others for any potential school closures after Conservatives James Evans MS raised the issue of rural school closures in the Senedd.
Powys County Council is run by an Independent-Conservative coalition of which Mr Evans is a member, the Conservatives also hold the education portfolio.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader and Senedd Member for Mid Wales - Jane Dodds and Leader of Powys Liberal Democrats James Gibson-Watt
Commenting Jane Dodds MS, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:
"James Evans and the Conservatives will do well to remember that decisions on local individual school closures is a decision for Powys County Council. As well as being a Senedd Member he is also a Conservative County Councillor and will have significant sway and influence within the Conservative Group who help run Powys County Council and indeed control the education portfolio.
“Powys County Council are currently consulting regarding the closure of several small schools. This is a course of action that the ruling Independent-Conservative group have chosen to pursue.
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats fought hard to ensure extra funding for small and rural schools was provided by the Welsh Government and it was Kirsty Williams as Education Minister who changed the process for school closures making it harder for local authorities to close smaller schools and as a result many schools across Wales which may have closed have not."
Councillor James Gibson-Watt, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrat Group on Powys County Council added:
“I would welcome James Evans’ input as a currently serving Conservative councillor and member of the ruling administration to ensure that Powys County Council not only provides enough funding for our small rural schools but that Powys County Council adheres to the Welsh Government’s Rural Schools Policy which requires councils like Powys to make it a presumption that small rural schools stay open, and not to plan for their closure.
“Any decision to close or merge schools in Powys, first and foremost will be a decision taken by the Independent-Conservative coalition. Council officers have made it clear to councillors that the consultation on school closures across the county is nothing to do with a lack of funding in the education budget.
“Schools in Powys will only close if the Conservatives want them to, and Mr Evans should remember that.”