Complaints over Vale of Glamorgan Nato schools disruption

Celtic Manor The conference at the Celtic Manor will be attended by world leaders including President Barack Obama

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Plans to disrupt opening times of schools in the Vale of Glamorgan during the Nato summit, despite it being held 25 miles away in Newport, have been criticised.

Schools in the county have been advised to close early on 3 and 5 September and open late on 4 September.

The council said this would minimise traffic disruption caused by delegates flying into Cardiff Airport.

But MP Alun Cairns said closing schools was a "huge over-reaction".

Advice issued to schools by the Vale of Glamorgan council said the large number of delegates and their staff landing at Cardiff Airport would lead to disruption on the surrounding roads and the route to the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport where the conference is being held.

It says police have asked that where possible alternative arrangements should be made for staff and pupils, and the authority recommends schools close at 14:00 BST on 3 and 5 September and open at 11:00 BST on 4 September.

'Wrong message'

Vale of Glamorgan Conservative MP Mr Cairns told BBC Wales the advice on closures would affect schools which were nowhere near any of the potential sites of congestion identified by police.

He also said primary schools very near some of the conference venues in Cardiff and Newport were remaining open with unaffected start and finish times.

"It's completely disproportionate and a major misjudgement by the Vale local authority," he said.

"I have got schools in Llantwit Major, schools in Cowbridge, schools in St Bride's Major not affected by any of the pinch points being told to close early or to open late.

"It's disruption that's completely unacceptable not only to the parents but also to the employers of these people because they have to take time off work."

He said the decision went beyond advice issued by Downing Street's Nato planning unit.

Alun Cairns MP said the decision to disrupt schools was 'disproportionate'

In a letter to the council, he wrote: "Although Cardiff Airport will be used by some delegates, I am told this is unlikely to have any impact on the road network surrounding the facility.

"You will obviously be aware that these closure plans come after six weeks summer holidays. Parents will find it difficult to arrange carers and the timing of your advice now makes it difficult for schools to change their plans at this late stage.

"I am also concerned that closing schools in this way sends out the wrong messages, when the Welsh government is placing such a priority on attendance levels."

Christopher Elmore, cabinet member for children's services, who will be standing for Labour against Mr Cairns at next year's general election, said in a letter to the MP the recommendations were made following advice from police.

He told the BBC: "The police raised the issue of trying to alleviate pressure on the tributary roads.

"All we can do is go off the information that we were given by police and in consultation with heads this is what was agreed."

A protest meeting raising concerns about a planned peace camp in the Pillgwenlly area of Newport to coincide with the Nato summit is being held in the Pillgwenlly Millennium Centre on Tuesday evening.

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