Probe into move to close Torfaen’s top school

Probe into move to close Torfaen’s top school

Brian Mawby the new cabinet member for Torfaen for children and young people pictured at the Civic Centre, Pontypool. (1215592)

Brian Mawby the new cabinet member for Torfaen for children and young people pictured at the Civic Centre, Pontypool. (1215596)

First published in Pontypool news

THE decision to close Torfaen’s highest performing school went before a scrutiny committee as a challenge was put forward against the cabinet decision.

On July 15, cabinet agreed to close Pontnewynydd Primary School with the majority of pupils moving to Penygarn Primary School from September 2015. But Independent councillor Mike Harris challenged the decision and gained the support of ten councillors during a vote at the overview and scrutiny meeting yesterday.

Cllr Harris claimed that cabinet did not have all of the facts before making the decision to close the school, which is Torfaen’s only sector leading primary school, according to Estyn.

He said if Pontnewynydd School closes then there will be a deficit number of places.

But education department officers disagreed with this explaining that figures Cllr Harris had quoted did not take into account the number of children who do not attend their nearest school and that there are around 1,800 surplus primary school places in the borough.

Cllr Harris pointed out that Pontnewynydd School needs approximately £746,000 of backlog maintenance to bring the school back to its “as built” condition, before any improvements. But Penygarn School needs in excess of this.

Officers responded that Penygarn Primary School is easier to remodel, while £162,000 would be saved from the closure of one school as the running costs no longer exist.

Cllr Harris proposed that the overview and scrutiny committee require cabinet to reconsider its decision. Councillors Barry Taylor and John Marshall backed Cllr Harris.

But Cllr Brian Mawby proposed an amendment that councillors note the decision taken by cabinet, which was carried.

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