Councillors asked to give nod to school closures

THE end looks imminent for two Torfaen secondary schools as council officers ask council members to agree their plans for closure.

Torfaen cabinet will meet next Tuesday to decide the future of Fairwater School and Llantarnam School with effect from September 2015.

Members will discuss a report and will also be asked to agree to the formation of a new school on the Fairwater School site from September 2015.

As part of the proposal Llantarnam Leisure Centre will also close from September 2015, as Torfaen Leisure Trust will not take on the management of the site and no other groups have come forward to run it.

The closure is part of the 21st Century Schools Programme that aims to reduce surplus places.

The consultation period ran from February 17to March 31, and was considered by councillors on May 6, who agreed to publish statutory closure notices.

Following this, the council received 20 statutory objections, including from the governing body of Llantarnam School and Councillor Maria Graham.

The council proposes to close both of the schools, saying they are “unsustainable” if they remain open.

In April, a petition of more than 4,000 signatures was handed to Torfaen council calling for Llantarnam school to be saved.

A crowd of around 750 people attended the meeting at Llantarnam School in March to discuss the proposals, while more than 300 people gathered at Fairwater High School.

A fear is that the first phase will require the use of demountable classrooms and will not be completed until 2019, costing £6million.

A second phase would cost £10million and will not completed until 2025.

The cost of refurbishing Llantarnam is said to be significantly less at only £9million.

But the authority maintains that Fairwater is the best location for the new school and depending on when refurbishment could start, and numbers of pupils on the site, demountable classrooms may not be necessary.

Parents were also worried about traffic around the Fairwater site, but the council says that it would undertake a Traffic Impact Assessment if the proposal proceeds.

In response to the closure of the leisure centre, the report highlights that there are already substantial leisure facilities in the area, including Cwmbran Stadium and pool and Fairwater Leisure Centre.

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