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Council responds to High School claims

Created on 20/07/2016 @ 08:20
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Powys County Council has responded to claims from Montgomeryshire Assembly Member Russell George that they had “abdicated responsibility” over the ongoing Llanfyllin High School transport saga.

The school has landed in trouble for offering subsidised buses to 149 pupils for whom Llanfyllin is not their nearest secondary school. Some were being brought in on coaches from homes across the Shropshire border.

Mr George met with Welsh Audit Office officials to discuss recent developments in Llanfyllin and to express claims that Powys did not appear to have a rigorous process of oversight over the school’s budget.

He said yesterday (Tuesday): “The independent investigation concluded that Powys County Council abdicated responsibility over compliance and failed to conduct even a cursory investigation of the school’s draft budget to ensure that they were not in breach of the regulations surrounding home to school transport.”

But in response, the Leader of the Council, Councillor Barry Thomas, said: “The cabinet has accepted the findings of the independent review into the circumstances surrounding Llanfyllin High School’s unlawful use of delegated school funding.

“The school’s unlawful use of funds to subsidise home to school transport was brought to the council’s attention by the Wales Audit Office and we have kept them informed of developments throughout the process.

“As a locally managed school, it was the governing body’s responsibility to ensure the school acted within policy and it was the governing body’s role to sign off the annual accounts. It was that failure that placed parents and pupils in a difficult position.

“In June the cabinet considered the involvement of a former cabinet member and the four local authority appointed governors. They were dismissed as governors of any Powys school for which they serve as local authority governors for the remainder of their term of office – a decision that is subject of an appeal.

“The independent report has also been referred to the Public Service Ombudsman by the council’s monitoring officer.

“Llanfyllin High School governing body has been reminded of its responsibilities and the chair of the body has been asked to provide confirmation that the school will comply with the funding policy.

“The cabinet has also directed the Head of Paid Service deal with staff and procedural matters referred to in the report and take appropriate action. The public must have confidence in the scope and efficiency of the council’s work.

“The cabinet has acknowledged there were shortcomings in detecting the breach of policy but we should not forget it was the school’s failure to comply with a policy that triggered the problem,” he added. 

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