The Bishop of St Asaph has written to the cabinet members of Cyngor Gwynedd ahead of today’s (14 February) meeting discussing the “Future of Education Provision in the Berwyn Catchment Area”.
The Rt Revd Gregory Cameron was invited to send the letter to lay out the Church in Wales’ position, by the Head of Education at Cyngor Gwynedd Arwyn Thomas and the Lead Councillor for Education, Cllr Gareth Thomas. It follows a meeting between representatives of the Church in Wales and Cyngor Gwynedd last Wednesday (8 February).
You can read the letter in full in Welsh: Letter from Bishop Gregory to Cyngor Gwynedd Arwyn Thomas Cymraeg
You can read the letter in full here in English: Letter from Bishop Gregory to Cyngor Gwynedd Arwyn Thomas.
In the letter, Bishop Gregory makes it clear that:
- The dioceses of St Asaph and Bangor have always tried to respond positively and creatively to the proposals of Cyngor Gwynedd.
- We have always sought to be, and remain committed to being, co-operative and accommodating to the proposals of Cyngor Gwynedd.
- Fundamentally, the cabinet has a choice to make between affirming the existing plans or of putting it at risk of further confusion and delay and potential legal wrangling, which must be avoided.
The letter lays out why the withdrawal of the church from this project throws several significant factors into doubt. It reaffirms the church’s position that “nothing has materially changed from the recommendations you made to the council” in September 2015 and reminds cabinet members that:
“The finances secured from the Welsh Government were secured on the current proposal for a voluntary controlled school. Those financial arrangements will be put at risk by a decision to propose a changed status, and particularly if church participation is now rejected.”
The letter also addresses the many misunderstandings over the church’s wish to see the site of Ysgol Sant Beuno included in the plans in some way. It says:
“The law is quite clear: where it is possible to retain a charitable asset for education, every effort should be made to do that. The money does not come back to the church but is invested in the children of Bala.”
Bishop Gregory ends his letter with an acknowledgement of the shared “wish to see this project secured and completed in the shortest possible time…” and a reminder of the strength of partnership experienced between the church and Cyngor Gwynedd:
“The Diocese has shown that we remain steadfast in our loyalty to this project and to improving the educational provision in Bala. We have kept to our word and allowed the closure of three church schools, we have offered places on the governing body and we have offered a financial contribution to the build costs. We have supported the funding bid and with the authority secured a grant of £5.3 million from the 21st Century Schools capital programme.”