To be a parent of a young family makes for a very busy life and it is often stressful keeping everything going. It doesn’t allow time to wrangle with the county council to keep children’s schools open, but an astonishing number have.
Rumboldswhyke Infants School in the east of Chichester is under threat of closure and the reasons given by West Sussex County Council lack credibility. The whole process has lacked transparency with twists and turns that parents and supporters have found cynical and manipulative.
A Freedom of Information request has even shown that the public ‘consultation’ was put in train when the decision to close the school had already been made. Supporters feel there exists an arrogant belief that we will become worn down and our opposition will fade away.
So many new homes are being built nearby, that the case for closure has not been made. When the directly funded free school began taking infants, closing Rumboldswhyke must have looked like an opportunity for the council to save money and free up the site. As if closing a much loved school is no big deal.
When I attended the meeting of the county’s scrutiny committee, objective examination of the issues led councillors of all parties to raise concerns and vote that the move to ‘consult on closure’ be delayed.
A few days later the more senior cabinet members meeting overturned that resolution. Cabinet members appeared poorly briefed and overly dependent on the advice of their officers. Even if the county councillors have regrets, the officers do not.
Can it be right that councillors are so led by officers when they are meant to represent us by acting in our name for the good of all? They were so against even a short delay, to stop, think and listen.
There has been a lack of common sense and compassion and parents and children’s lives have been made harder as a result.