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Council leader defends decision to close Flintshire schools due to snowfall

THE LEADER of Flintshire Council has defended a decision to close all of the county’s schools on Thursday due to predictions of heavy snowfall.

The local authority has been strongly criticised by parents after the move to shut all schools in the area was announced the previous day, before any snow had arrived.

The decision was taken by the council’s emergency management response team after an amber weather alert of snow and ice was issued by the Met Office.

A number of parents hit out over the situation on social media after they were forced to make last-minute childcare arrangements, with many saying the decision was taken too soon.

The authority later apologised for any inconvenience caused, but said it had taken a proactive approach to prevent putting staff and pupils at risk, with online learning arrangements provided for youngsters instead.

Council leader Ian Roberts, a former teacher, has backed the decision after some councillors complained that they were not consulted.

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Flintshire Council leader Ian Roberts (Pic: Flintshire Council)

Speaking at a meeting held yesterday (Thursday, 8 February), the authority’s education portfolio holder said: “For those of you who haven’t been in the situation, as a headteacher, the worst possible situation you can be in is to have to try and close a school during the school day.

“Having to contact hundreds of parents who will probably be in work and asking them to collect their children is a very, very difficult thing to do.

“We need to remember that this was an amber warning, a very rare warning.

“I do know that the authority has received many positive comments from headteachers who were not faced with making the difficult decision that they would have been faced with.

“I appreciate that this has caused difficulties for parents and for young people in our schools, but there will be openness and transparency.”

He said councillors would be provided with details of the decision making process for them to examine.

In response, the chair of the council’s corporate resources scrutiny committee said he believed members were right to ask questions.

Cllr Richard Jones said: “I don’t think it was criticism Cllr Roberts and I’ve let you speak for quite a while if I’m honest.

“I think what members were mentioning to me was that we were doing something different than other local authorities.

“We seem to be one of the only authorities which has acted in this way.”

Cllr Roberts attempted to interject but was prevented from doing so by the chair.