SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey has hit out at the decision to allow the closure of the Woodlands unit saying it is “not standing up for Derry.”
The Foyle politician says he is appalled and angry by the decision of Education Minister John O’Dowd to allow the decimation of the Woodlands Speech and Language Unit at Belmont House School, despite outright opposition from parents, pupils and the overwhelming evidence of the benefit the young people get from the sterling work undertaken at the unit.
He added: “I am appalled by the decision of the Minister to implement the development proposals that would close Woodlands and scatter the classes throughout the North West. There has been wide-ranging and prevalent opposition to this proposal from every section of the community and I cannot comprehend how the Minister could come to such a decision in the face of overwhelming and tangible evidence that the in-house facility at Belmont was giving new hope to parents and children who have speech and language difficulties.
“There will be families and children across the region who use the unit who will be absolutely devastated by this move, and I totally condemn it. The colleagues of the Minister locally will find it hard to defend this situation given they urged people to respond to the consultation on the future of woodlands and nothing more – and now their Minister has decided to over-rule the concerns raised in the consultation
“This is not Standing Up for Derry – this is the systemic destruction of a facility that we should have been doing everything we could to save and promote, instead it will now be decimated and the future of the services rendered unclear.”