SCHOOLS CRISIS: 'I won't go' - Blaenau Gwent leader
ON the day another council was brought in to rescue the crisis stricken education department in Blaenau Gwent, defiant council leader Des Hillman says he won’t resign.
Yesterday the Argus exclusively revealed that Blaenau Gwent council was failing its children after a damning inspection report revealed shocking levels of pupil performance and the Valleys council was worst when it comes to children leaving school without any qualifications.
The council is now in ‘special measures’ as a result.
Despite mounting pressure to resign, Cllr Hillman told the Argus last night that he will remain as leader, and is determined to get the council back on track.
“I have no plans to resign, I want to keep a stable authority,” he said.
“We are putting the building blocks in place for change and I am pleased that Labour councillors are willing to work with us.
“I am willing to work with anyone to improve things, after all we are all in the same game, it’s not about party politics.”
Executive member for Education and teacher Cllr Stephen Bard has already resigned his post following the news, but it is understood he will remain a Six Bells ward councillor.
Yesterday afternoon, National Assembly Education Minister Leighton Andrews spoke at the Senedd of the unacceptable shortcomings of the council and confirmed he has appointed a task force, headed by Neath and Port Talbot council and its director of education Karl Napierella and has set up an independent recovery board to oversee improvements.
Blaenau Gwent council has now been stripped of its decision making power over education.
Mr Andrews said new director of education Sylvia Lindoe, who took up the role at Blaenau Gwent only seven months ago, has made a positive contribution to the council.
Speaking after the assembly plenary hearing last night, Blaenau Gwent AM Alun Davies said: “The children of Blaenau Gwent have been appallingly let down.
“It is inconceivable that Des Hillman will continue as leader, he does not have the credibility.
“I have spoken to Des Hillman and said he needs to consider his position. What is important is the future of our children, no one politician’s career is more important than that. We have the infrastructure and some great teachers to provide world-class education, we need the leadership to do it.”
Opposition Labour councillors have vowed to do all they can to turn the education department around. Labour group leader Hedley McCarthy said: “There have been differences between ourselves and the Independents about Education.
“It is now essential to put these differences aside in the interests of the children and students of Blaenau Gwent. The Labour Group is committed to work to achieve the required improvements to our education services.”