First of my public meetings about Powys County Council's reorganisation of secondary education tonight - in Llanfyllin, where closure of the High School is an option/model under consideration. My public meetings don't usually attract a big crowd, which is putting it mildly. But around 100 turned up - including Councillor David Jones, the Education Portfolio Holder on Powys County Council, the Mayor of Llanfyllin, Lembit Opik, Montgomeryshire's current MP, Suzy Davies, and Councillors Aled Davies and Peter Lewis.
Decided to take a very 'quiet' approach to running things. There's a lot of worry and emotion around, but I was hoping for a reasoned debate. That's what we had. Sure, the emotion was there, but it was 'simmering' rather than 'boiling over'. I took a very unopinionated approach (unusual for me), and took ten minutes to lay out the background at the start. What we wanted was to hear the views of the people of Llanfyllin. Aled and Peter left us in no doubt what they thought. Big thumbs down to all the proposals/options/models. Cllr. David Jones chipped in as well, and was listened to with extreme politeness. I was pleased about that. I'm hoping David will turn up at my other meetings in Llanfair Caereinion, Welshpool and Llanidloes. His presence adds a lot.
I had two objectives tonight. Firstly, I wanted everyone to be in no doubt that the Council is facing a real problem in sustaining the incredibly high quality secondary education that we have become accustomed to in Montgomeryshire. And secondly, I hoped the audience would unanimously decide that none of the current options/models are acceptable. They did. The message was "Go away and think again". Every single person present was passionately opposed to the closure of Llanfyllin High School, or to taking away its sixth form. County Councillors will have to be stark staring bonkers to even think about such an idea - when they finally get to talk about it.