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Consultation on Brecon and Cradoc schools merger goes ahead

A CONSULTATION on the merger of primary schools in Brecon and Cradoc as well as a new building for them to move into will forge ahead.

The decision to hold a consultation had originally been taken at a cabinet meeting just before Christmas on December 23.

At the Powys County Council (PCC) Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, January 26, Education portfolio holder, Cllr Phyl Davies, explained that the report had been brought back to allow for a community impact assessment to be included.

The proposals are for a new 360 place English-medium primary school in Brecon.

This would replace Mount Street Infants School, Mount Street Juniors School and Cradoc Community Primary School.

A Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) and a community swimming pool – would also be part of the scheme which could be built on the site of the old Brecon High School.

At the meeting, both Cllr Liz Rijnenberg and Cllr Iain McIntosh who represent wards where the schools are based spoke against the proposals.

Cllr Liz Rijnenberg, (Brecon St Mary, Labour) pointed out that some pupils would face a 1.5-mile walk with an uphill section to the new school site, which would “inevitably” lead to more car journeys.

Cllr McIntosh (Yscir – Conservative) is the cabinet member for Housing, Planning & Economic Regeneration.

He had declared an interest in the issue which allowed him to speak at the meeting, as a local councillor.

Cllr McIntosh explained that Cradoc school is used by many groups and provides a service for many in the Yscir community.

Cllr McIntosh said:

“After school, academic, sports the list goes on, all of these are things that affect people in the community, it can’t all be moved to Brecon.

“If you remove the school you remove these community benefits supplied by Cradoc school.

“Therefore dealing a significant blow to the Yscir community, and one I’m really worried the community won’t recover from.

Cllr McIntosh pointed out that the staff at Cradoc would have an “opportunity” of working in the new school.

Cllr McIntosh added: “There is a lot of staff that are annoyed that this is being dressed up as though it won’t be that bad when actually they will be losing their jobs.”

Education consultant, Geraint Rees, told the cabinet that the consultation is needed so that all these problems can be “teased out.”

Mr Rees said: “The issues raised by both councillors are reasons for a public consultation.

“Essentially we can face all of the issues, have people say what they want to say and hopefully have a set of proposals that have benefited from that consultation so that it responds to the community.”

“The commitment is to deliver an honourable consultation, to record it accurately and report it back to cabinet.”

Children’s Social Services and Culture portfolio holder, Cllr Rachel Powell (Beguildy – Independent), said: “Schools do draw in communities..

“They need that sense of purpose and belonging and I would like to see the consultation demonstrate that insight.”

Council leader Cllr Rosemarie Harris (Llangynidr – Independent) suggested that information on the other community facilities available in the whole area, be included in the next  report.

Cabinet than unanimously approved the recommendation and a consultation will start soon.

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