A row has broken out over a Vale of Glamorgan Council decision not to renew the terms of office of its two long-standing ‘Local Authority Governors’ on the Board of Governors of Stanwell School – both of whom happen to be Conservatives .
The two Conservative councillors are Cllr Clive Williams and Cllr Anthony Ernest – both of whom represent the Plymouth Ward of Penarth. Cllr Clive Williams is a member of both the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Penarth Town Council. Cllr Ernest is a former Vale Councillor and is a Penarth Town councillor .
The pair have served on the Board of Governors of Stanwell School as the representatives of the Vale of Glamorgan Council (as the local education authority) for many years – occupying both the Stanwell governor-seats that represent the Vale as the Local Education Authority .
Stanwell Governors are appointed for a four-year term. Cllr Williams’s and Cllr Ernest’s terms of office, which began in 2011, were due to end in December 2015. Both they, and the other governors, were apparently doing a good job. At the end of last year the chairman of the Stanwell Governors, Tony Rogers, told parents that:-
“The work of the Governors is done on a voluntary basis and takes considerable time and effort on the part of the members of the Board. … I place on record my appreciation for the work that they have carried out for the school over the last twelve months”
However after Labour won control of the Vale of Glamorgan Council in 2012 it brought in a new panel system for appointing its “local authority governors” .[ These arrangements don’t apply to other Stanwell governors who are elected separately]
This system gives each Vale LEA governor the option of either standing-down at the end of their term – or formally re-applying, in writing, for renewal of their positions – and then being considered in competition with other applicants by the Vale Council’s catchily-named “Appointment of Local Authority Governors Advisory Panel” . The panel goes entirely on the paperwork and doesn’t actually interview candidates.
Both Cllr Williams and Cllr Ernest duly filled-in the forms. Cllr Williams was told he had not been re-appointed as his application form had allegedly been “incorrectly filled-in”. Cllr Ernest was told he could not be re-appointed because he was no longer a Vale councillor – even though there is no requirement for any governor to be a councillor at all.
A new governor, Mrs A Williams-Brunt, was appointed to fill the vacancy created by the non-reappointment of Cllr Ernest.
According to Cllr Clive Williams it then transpired that Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) a member of the Vale of Glamorgan’s ruling “cabinet” had also applied to become a governor of Stanwell School but that – unlike Cllr Williams and Cllr Ernest – had been shortlisted and was in contention for the second vacant Stanwell governor appointment.
The Vale of Glamorgan Council’s ‘Appointment of Local Authority Governors Advisory Panel’ met last Monday under the chairmanship of Cllr Chris Elmore – the ‘cabinet’ member for education. [Cllr Elmore was also nominated last month as the Labour candidate for the forthcoming Ogmore parliamentary by-election].
The Panel says it is striving to attract more governors with wider and different experiences and now has adopted the policy of bringing governor vacancies to the notice of major employers across the Vale. It has also introduced what it calls a “Skills Register” for applicants. The panel’s policy is that no existing governor has “an automatic right of reappointment”.
After what some sources say was a prolonged discussion, the Advisory Panel decided not to select Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) whom it had put on the short-list.
Notwithstanding the paperwork problem, Cllr Clive Williams says he received the support of two members of the panel including Vale Deputy Mayor Margaret Wilkinson but remaining four votes went to a newcomer and local business executive – Mr C Adams – who has now been formally nominated as the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s new representative on the Board of Governors of Stanwell School .
Mr Adams’s appointment is due to be confirmed by the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s ruling ‘cabinet’ later today.