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Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Ian Fleming once had Auric Goldfinger say: 'Mr Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action."' Is the Welsh Government taking the same view about this news that there are in fact three empty schools around Wales, awaiting formal closure proceedings?

Last week Education Minister Leighton Andrews said Carmarthenshire council's decision to keep Capel Iwan, near Newcastle Emlyn, open was "bonkers." Now Gwynedd and Ceredigion councils have confirmed they each have a primary school without any pupils.

The BBC say that although Ysgol Abergynolwyn near Tywyn in Gwynedd and Mydroilyn Primary School near Llanarth in Ceredigion were earmarked for closure in the future they were due to welcome pupils back in September:

But parents have decided to send their children elsewhere.

Both councils said the statutory process to close them was now underway.

Most staff at the schools have been redeployed, although a caretaker is still employed at Ysgol Abergynolwyn for an hour each day.

Both authorities, however, will still need to fund maintenance of the schools.

The sooner that the Welsh Government dismantles the bureaucracy around the non-contested closure of schools the better.
Leighton Andrews seems more intent on a centralising solution, judging by his interview on Sunday.
'Mr. Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action."'

I consider myself as an honoree Chicagoan having lived there some 5 years, and attended law school there, obtained a Jurist Doctor degree (to add to my PhD), and passed the Bar and worked some 5 years for Chicago law firms as a law clerk and then as a fully fledged Chicago lawyer - but having said all that, I have never once heard anyone in Chicago say: "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time its enemy action" and ‘as it happens’, the current Mayor of Chicago is also a Chicago lawyer and got his JD from the same law school as me (DePaul, University College of Law). I've never heard the Mayor of Chicago make that statement or "Blago", who lives in Chicago and was the State Governor, and who just got found guilty for one count of lying to the Feds; never heard him say that and he is famous for his wordage (and good looks, especially his hair). Not saying it is not a Chicago saying; just that it is hardly, if ever, said.

PS Leighton Andrews is my hero. One of the few in WAG.
A fair comment about non-contested schools. As I undertand it though the problem in Carmarthen is that there was a single objection from an individual with no real locus. Surely it is right that there should be some sort of threshold?

Another issue that needs to be thought about is that people who oppose change have multiple rights of appeal while those whose interests are frustrated by the status quo have no such remedies.

A quick example. Linguistic luddites in Cardiff can endlessly block the extention of WM education proposed by a well-led enlightened council. Proponents of WM education in Swansea have no similar right to force a blinkered authority to act.

Surely there should be a postive right to demand provision to match the right to object to change.
I cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of Ian Fleming's research :)
Yeah, Ian Fleming was a beaver.

Meanwhile I should, perhaps, clarify something: I was in Chicago around five years - but I worked full time for downtown Chicago law firms while attending law school and then studying for the Bar. It was very tough as I was required to help out at depositions and spend time with clients based three/four hours drive time from Chicago. I was nearly killed on one assignment; I fell of a 'man lift' and narrowly avoided falling into the lift machinery in the basement. One of my legs was strapped up for weeks because it was badly strained, but I didn't miss a day's work. It's all about work-work.

It is often said that: "Chicago is a working town" and 'a social town'.
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