Motion calling for third option on future of school will not be discussed

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Monday, May 13th, 2019 10:23pm

By Saul Cooke-Black - Local Democracy Reporter

A call to consider ‘rebuilding’ a special needs school under threat of closure could be considered as part of a public consultation, but a motion on the issue has been dismissed.

Monmouthshire council is considering responses to a public consultation on closing Mounton House School in Pwllmeyric, near Chepstow, which is attended by boys aged 11-16 with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Two options were included in the consultation – one to make no change to provision at the school, and the preferred alternative to close it and “develop more appropriate provision.”

But the leader of the council’s Labour group, Cllr Dimitri Batrouni, drew up a motion calling for a third option to be considered.

The motion called on the council’s cabinet to reject both proposals set out in the consultation.

“Instead, the council calls on the Conservative administration to explore a proposal to rebuild Mounton House as a special unit enmeshed with a new Chepstow School building,” the motion read.

A plan to expand provision at the school was outlined by the council last year, but it was abandoned due to estimated costs of £6.4million.

However council officials have said the motion cannot be discussed due to its timing.

They say that cabinet members would not be able to take part or debate the motion as it could “prejudice a position” on the school’s future.

A six-week public consultation concluded on April 29, with a decision due to be made by the council’s cabinet in the coming months.

Council bosses say the school does not meet the needs of all Monmouthshire children with additional learning needs as it only caters for boys aged 11-16.

But teachers, parents and councillors have opposed the planned closure.

Cllr Batrouni said: “My motion hoped to explore a third option where we could build a new school in Chepstow that accommodates and meets the needs of children and residents in the area.”

Paul Matthews, chief executive of the council, said the suggestion could still be considered as part of the consultation though.

“Councillor Batrouni could have made his suggestion as part of this open consultation but chose not to,” Mr Matthews said.

“That said, I understand the cabinet member is prepared to consider it as a late input to the consultation process.

“All councillors will have the opportunity to challenge the cabinet decision, if they are minded to do so, when it is made so there remains further opportunity for full council debate which councillor Batrouni is aware of.”

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