· To select appropriate items from the Cabinet agenda for pre-decision scrutiny (cabinet reports enclosed for Scrutiny Members)
The Committee chose to scrutinise the following item on the Cabinet agenda:
Strategic School Improvement Programme - Proposal to Establish an English-Medium 3 - 11 School to Replace Alltwen, Godre'rgraig and Llangiwg Primary Schools
The circulated report provided detail regarding the proposal for a new consultation around the proposal for school reorganisation in the Swansea Valley; the proposal was to establish an English-medium 3-11 school with a specialist learning support centre, in new build premises to accommodate pupils from the current catchment areas of Alltwen Primary, Godre’rgraig Primary and Llangiwg Primary Schools.
It was explained that the Cabinet of the previous administration approved the former decision in relation to this matter; however, the decision had since been challenged and a judicial review took place which saw the decision be overturned. Members were informed that the new administration had committed to reviewing the decision taken in respect of the Swansea Valley School reorganisation proposal, which required the Council to start a new consultation for the proposal.
If Members approved the recommendation detailed in the circulated report, Officers stated that they will be highly encouraging members of the interested communities to take part in the consultation in order to provide their views.
A discussion took place in regards to the involvement of the Education, Skills and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee in this process, and the function of Joint Scrutiny Committees. The Chief Executive indicated that it was for Scrutiny Members to decide how scrutiny carries out its functions; there was a meeting scheduled with Scrutiny Chairs to remind them of their provisions within the Constitution, which include calling Joint Scrutiny Committee meetings in order for other Elected Members to attend specific Committees. It was noted that it would be useful to have a more in depth discussion with the Members of the Education, Skills and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee in regards to this matter, if they felt it was important that they be present when future reports, relating to this proposal, were brought back to Cabinet Scrutiny Committee.
Members queried if public meetings would form part of the consultation process; it was mentioned that the previous administration weren’t able to hold face-to-face public meetings during the initial consultation of this proposal due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Officers explained that they would be following the consultation requirements as necessary, and confirmed that there will be elements of the consultation undertaken face-to-face with the public.
Officers were asked to explain the consequences of any potential changes to the main proposal, if the consultation period was to go ahead and the feedback provided good reason to change that proposal. It was also asked that if a new business case was to be produced for any alternatives that may seem feasible, how long would the process of drawing up the business case take and when would there be another opportunity to submit that business case to Welsh Government for funding. It was noted if Cabinet decided not to progress with the proposal that was being consulted on, ... view the full minutes text for item 3