Press Release 13/12/03

Rhys Ifans pledges support to threatened Pembrokeshire rural primary school in Hermon Village where his mother’s family lived and grew up - Villagers heard the news while holding public meeting on Thursday 11/12/03 where they unanimously endorsed the go ahead to lodge the high court case for a Judicial Review on Monday 15/12/03. This will be a landmark legal case to challenge local authorities across Wales who wish to close thriving village primary schools.

Rhys Ifans

During a public meeting held in the Village of Hermon on Thursday the 11/12/03 the villagers took the brave decision to fight the local authority closure notice through the high court judicial review system – the case will be lodged on Monday 15/12/03. The inhabitants were fully briefed by the campaign spokesman Cris Tomos who has a 4 year old daughter at the school. Cris explained “the community were determined to save the full to capacity school, where everyone fully backed the move to lodge the court case on Monday. All members of the community are willing to work hard to raise the tens of thousand of pounds needed to underwrite the legal costs.”

Cris went on to explain, “It is ironic that Pembrokeshire County Council has agreed planning permission for 40 new dwellings in the small village and yet are determined to close the primary provision. Also why is our local authority willing to waste so much time and legal expenditure on trying to close the popular school, should they not be devoting the money towards supporting communities in the county? When the community win this case it will be the County Council who will have to pay all legal fees including our legal costs – is this proper use of local government funds and resources?”

During the meeting on the 11/12/03 the crowds who had turned our to support were given a further boost of confidence when a statement of support was read out, which confirmed that the international Welsh Actor Rhys Ifans wished the campaign every success. Rhys had contacted the group through him Mother who was born in the Village of Hermon. Rhys himself spent his early years living in the village. Although born in Pembrokeshire he moved with the family to North Wales when he was a toddler.

Rhys confirmed that having attended a small rural primary school himself he can but endorse the efforts of the villagers of Hermon in fighting for the village school and wished them every success with the high court action which could set a legal precedence to safeguard primary schools across Wales.   

Cris Tomos commented “ It was great to have this confirmation of Rhys Ifans and receive his full support in backing our high court efforts to seek an independent Judicial Review into the manner in which our views have been unfairly treated” Cris added “ Our school is one of the most popular in the area with a waiting list of 4 young children wishing to enter the school in the spring term. But letters received over the past 14 days from the County Council Director of Education – Mr Gerson Davies has seen him block the entry of our local youngsters to the school where their family and friends have been taught, it demonstrates the negative methods of the County Council Officers in seeking to undermine the spirit of our small Welsh speaking community in Hermon”

The inhabitants of Hermon have launched a national appeal to raise the awareness of the plight of small schools and are prepared to take the County Council to the high court in a bid to set precedence to safeguard future rural schools from being threatened and having to take such drastic actions.

Any one interested in supporting the school’s campaign can visit the community website on www.hermonglog.org.uk The inhabitants will need to underwrite the possible legal costs in fighting the High Court Case which could run into tens of thousands of pounds, supporters can donate to the campaign funds either directly into the community bank account or sending donations by posts to Hermon School, Pembrokeshire, SA36 0DT. The case has to be lodged with the High Court by Monday 15th December 2003 hence all donations have to be received as soon as possible. It is important to note that when the Judicial Review verdict is secured and the school saved from closure the costs of the case will be bourn by the County Council and all donations will be returned to the individuals who have contributed in ensuring that local democracy prevails.

End

School Governors Contact :Nerys Nicholas  - Contact Number 01239 831701 or 07766 545383

School Campaign Co-ordinator: Cris Tomos – Contact Number 01239 831962 or 07974 099738

Legal Contact: Michael Imperato Solicitor – Contact 02920 262811

NB Several Film Crews have noted that the wish to film the lodging of the Judicial Review Papers in the High Court on the 15/12/03 – Again this will be a opportunity to broadcast our National Appeal for individuals to underwrite our possible future legal costs.