Dying School, Pernickety Bank and Busy Bees
Oh dear. One of the last rural schools in Carmarthenshire, Llansawel, is on notice of closure. The county council has a well practised method of closing schools. Hint that closure is possible, and hope that parents will stop choosing the school. Say that closure is intended, and tell parents that if they take their children away voluntarily, the authority will pay for transport, but also convey the probability that if parents oppose closure, they will be on their own.
This posture seems dubious, because the education authority has a duty to transport primary-age children if they live more than two miles from the nearest school, and in the case of Llansawel you could multiply that distance by five before reaching a school with an apparently secure future.
There is no obligation to bus under-fives to school, so when one closes, if their parents or carers do not have a car their disposal, or money to run it, rural under-fives are denied a choice that is offered to town children.
And what about speeding lorries? With the UK government increasing maximum lorry speeds on single carriageway roads to 50mph, and more school buses and taxis also running on the less-and less-well maintained roads, how safe will those bus journeys be?
For years now, the education authority in Carmarthenshire has promoted big central schools, without assessing – publicly at least – whether the additional transport costs are sustainable, whether multi-site schools might be a better option socially and environmentally, whether the convenience to the education authority is outweighed by the damage to communities which lose their school. It seems policy to close schools by neglect, so that in the end councillors can shake their heads, wring their hands and declare that the school closed itself.
Banks and voluntary organisations
Do banks enjoy pressurising voluntary organisations? This year I took over as the treasurer of two organisations, Transition Tywi Trawsnewid and Llansawel Village Hall. In the first case, this involves a change of signatory and change of name, from Transition Town Llandeilo. In the second case, it’s just a change of signatory.
Transition Tywi banks with the Co-operative, selected a few years back as the ethical choice. That seems a bit odd, after the antics of former chairman the Reverend Paul Flowers, and the near collapse of the bank, now controlled by hedge funds and with the Co-operative Group just as a minority shareholder. In fact dealing with the Co-op Bank has been fairly straightforward, provided you remember to send the ancillary documents like signed minutes and the constitution.
HSBC, bankers for the village hall, are much more pernickety, and the change-over process has been going on for months. Proofs of identity: no online printouts allowed. OK, my passport was accepted, but as most of my accounts are online, I did not have much other choice, and those I took along to the branch first time were rejected because they did not include my middle names, or ran names together without spaces. Eventually I found a document they were willing to accept, and thought all was in order when the counter clerk admitted “Yes, everything looks fine now”. A week later, a telephone call. “We are sorry, but we have changed the mandate forms, so you need to do it again…….”
In the garden
I let some carrots flower, and they have been attracting beneficial insects such as bees and hoverflies. Reckon I’ll do the same next year. Good year for runner beans, courgettes, cucumbers, but the onion crop was rather light. More compost required. Never enough compost.
The minute I decided to do some weeding, we had a downpour – after more than a week without any rain.
Pat Dodd Racher