Abersoch school closure consultation extended amid Welsh language fears

Published
Image source, Alan M Fryer
Image caption,
With 10 pupils, the school is less than a quarter full

The time to object to the proposed closure of a small Gwynedd primary school has been extended by a week.

Cabinet members voted in November to press on with consultation on closing the 10-pupil Ysgol Abersoch.

The original consultation was launched on January 5 to run until February 16, but has been extended to February 23.

Campaigners who fear closure will threaten the Welsh-speaking nature of the village claim the original deadline did not allow enough time to respond.

A Gwynedd Council spokesman said last week the authority was "confident" the process was being conducted according to a code covering consultation on rural school closures, particularly amendments announced in July in response to the pandemic.

The council has now told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that to "avoid any doubt or oversight," a decision had been made to extend the consultation deadline by a week.

However, Welsh language campaigners from Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg are still unhappy.

"It's completely unfair to consult on the future of schools such as Abersoch while schools are closed as a result of a health crisis," said chairwoman Mabli Siriol.

"This is an additional concern and burden on parents, governors and the children themselves.

"The odds are stacked against these village communities, and we call on everyone to support them."

Gwynedd Council says the school currently costs the authority £17,404 per pupil to run - over four times the county average of £4,198.

If the school does close this summer, pupils from the village would instead be offered transport for the daily 1.4 mile journey to Ysgol Sarn Bach.

Gwynedd Council has been approached to respond to Cymdeithas yr Iaith's claims.

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