Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/438/5181
Liberals withdraw closure plans...
OVER 1,000 parents and school students turned up to lobby Cardiff Liberal council last week as the council intended to close 22 schools and threaten 300 teaching jobs across the city. The school students travelled to the demo in specially hired open buses, accompanied by brass bands and the like.
The Liberal council was already committed to withdraw (temporarily) their plans as they couldn't force the vote through the council chamber. This followed weeks of pressure by local people particularly on Labour councillors. But for this fact the lobby would have run into thousands.
At best this plan has gone into cold storage. Not only are 22 schools under threat but thousands of students would have to travel across the city, adding to the escalating pollution and fuel bills.
Socialist Party members are calling for a city-wide co-ordination committee to fight these closures. We must be on our guard. They may have withdrawn the proposals now but the Liberals will inevitably come back with new plans. It's a case of beware the ides of June - they may try to push these plans through during the school holidays.
...but parents keep organising!
TWO HUNDRED angry parents packed Peter Lea Primary school hall on 2 May pledging to save the school from closure. In Fairwater in west Cardiff two schools, Peter Lea Primary and Cantonian High were on the list of 22 to close, while Pertrabane Primary was to be halved in size.
These cuts would have had a devastating effect on the whole community. During the first week back from the Easter break, dozens of similar meetings took place throughout Cardiff. Parents and school students, organised in Cardiff's biggest protest since the anti Poll Tax struggle in 1990, forced the opposition parties to oppose the Liberals' plans.
Only the week before, a local Labour councillor came to a Fairwater Forum public meeting and said he would support the school closures. Plaid Cymru organised the Forum. Locally they opposed the Liberals' plan, but they fail to rule out supporting future school closures.
When challenged as to how they would proceed with the campaign to save local schools, the Plaid spokesperson said they'd meet again in two months! But Socialist Party members who are parents at the schools put forward a clear slogan of 'No Closures' and the need to link up with other schools.
The council's announcement came out of the blue the day before the Easter holidays, with no prior consultation. Both Peter Lea and Cantonian High have large playing fields worth tens of millions of pounds. The council admitted the land would be sold to developers.
Other schools regularly use Peter Lea for sport. In one corner the school has created an award winning 'forest classroom'. The council had no interest in our children's well-being, they just wanted to grab the land.
On the Saturday before the Peter Lea meeting, local Socialist Party members set up a stall to build support. Hundreds signed our petition. £50 was raised for our fighting fund and 35 copies of the socialist were sold.
Even though the Liberals have been forced to back down, action committees have been established at Peter Lea and a meeting is being built for at Cantonian because we know that this is not the end of the battle.
The council claims there are surplus places that 'waste' £3 million a year and threaten not to carry out necessary repairs and maintenance to school buildings. In fact, here is an opportunity to reduce class sizes and improve facilities for all children across Cardiff.
However this would require a real investment in education with extra teachers and staff instead of this cuts package.
In The Socialist 4 May 2006:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party workplace news
1926 General Strike
International socialist news and analysis