Photo credit: Wales Online, by Andrew James
It has not been an easy week for the former minister. A tweeted picture of him at a demonstration opposing a school closure in his constituency has led to the First Minister asking him to resign.
He, however, has no regrets, and neither should he.
“It’s been an unexpected week, but I don’t regret standing up for my constituency.
“It’s important local people see they have a community representative with a passion who makes an effort to stand up for them.
“The issue for me is that all councils need to ensure they’re spending their money efficiently and in the correct way, including getting a grip on surplus places as this has an impact on money.
“But in addressing these issues it’s up to the AM to scrutinise these proposals and make sure they make educational sense and are in the best interests of the community.”
I could not agree more with him. Rosemary Butler and Paul Flynn both declined to even look at – let alone scrutinise – this proposal. It is not in the best interests of the community and makes little educational sense. Yet neither of our senior elected representatives know this as they preferred not to hear about the proposal.
It’s important local people see they have a community representative with a passion who makes an effort to stand up for them.
And my personal view is that Councils in some cases have used the vague cover of “surplus” as a kind of “catch-all”, “get-out-of-jail-free” card to push through other proposals they want to see happen, especially when they do not have the money to accomplish them in other ways.
I may of course be wrong, but the proposal to amalgamate our schools would seem to be an example of this.
They need an ASD school but cannot afford to build new, so they identify a school building which they wish to use then justify its closure using the WAG 10% surplus guideline (knowing full well that within 5 years neither school will have any surplus at all, and this September, the Infant school will have just 7% surplus).
There are other schools in Newport with similar or worse levels of surplus, but they are not facing this situation.
So, knowing more now, I still say “Bravo, Mr Andrews”. You put your constituents before your high-level political career, and I’m sure they are rightly grateful and proud of you for doing so.