Nia Griffith MP has declared her full support for pupils and parents in the campaign to keep free bus transport to St. John Lloyd’s RC School. The MP has also given a cautious welcome to the response she has had from Cllr Kevin Madge, Leader of the Council who has stressed that the Council is consulting extensively on the difficult budget decisions the council faces, that he is aware of the concerns of pupils and parents at St. John Lloyd’s School, and that everything possible is being done to resolve the situation.
Nia Griffith MP explained,
“I welcome the expression of concern from the Cllr Kevin Madge, but I would reiterate the need to keep free transport to St. John Lloyd’s School or we will end up with only better off families having the option to send their children to a Catholic School, and no such choice for those struggling to make ends meet, which would be very unfair.
I have already given my assurances to the Headteacher Mr White that I have and will continue to lobby county council members on this issue. I know that it was one of the items listed by officers last year as a possible cut – presumably because it is one of the few items which comes from the central budget, rather than from the schools budget, which is protected. I did lobby councillors last year and it was discussed in the Labour Group who were very much opposed to cutting this transport, and the idea of making this cut was thrown out by the Labour Group, and then by the whole council relatively early on in the budget process. I have to say that I am therefore very concerned that officers have again included it in the list of possible cuts.
As well as the devastating impact that this cut could have on individual pupils and their families, it would have very far-reaching consequences for secondary schooling in Llanelli – if all the “out-of-town” pupils ceased to attend St John Lloyd’s and went to their local schools (always assuming that there were enough places for them in their local schools) then the school could end up being no longer viable and would be forced to close. There would then be the additional problem of where to send all the pupils at St John Lloyd who come from Llanelli town – there simply would not be sufficient space for them in Bryngwyn and Coedcae. I am sure that councillors do not intend to trigger the reconfiguration of our schools, and I am asking them to throw this idea out as soon as possible to put parents and pupils’ minds at rest.”
Mr White, Headteacher at the School, commented, “We have always had a very good relationship with the County’s education department, and I would hope that they can resolve this situation. St John Lloyd’s is a popular school with excellent educational outcomes. We work in partnership with the other secondary schools in the area, and the school has made a major contribution to securing additional Welsh Government funding of over £1m to improve vocational education opportunities for pupils from schools across Llanelli.”