A row has broken out between Carmarthenshire Labour and Plaid Cymru over the future of Ammanford and Betws schools after leaflets were distributed by the two parties disputing whether local primary schools were likely to be merged in the near future.
Under Band B of the Modernisation Education Programme, Ammanford are set to have new welsh medium and dual stream schools. It is stated in documentation on Carmarthenshire Council’s website that the schools associated with the scheme are Bro Banw, Ammanford Nursery, Gymraeg Rhydaman and Ysgol Betws. The information had been reconfirmed as accurate to Councillors in recent meetings.
With £15.6 million of joint funding between the Welsh Government and Carmarthenshire identified in the Capital Programme, Carmarthenshire Labour are calling for Plaid Councillors to outline whether there is a further delay for the Ammanford area schools or if they have shelved plans for the new schools.
Under the Modernisation Education Programme, local authorities are required to consult with parents and pupils of schools associated with the scheme, as well as local residents. It is anticipated that as part of the new Ammanford area schools, the four schools will be included. Labour have also sought confirmation that Parcyrhun school is not being included in the merger. Plaid-led Carmarthenshire Council are currently consulting on the closure of Ysgol Blaenau and Mynyddygareg, as part of plans to build new schools in the region.
Carmarthenshire Labour are questioning what the Plaid Cymru-led Council are spending £500,000 on this year and £4.9 million next year if there are no plans to launch a consultation on the new Ammanford area schools.
Cllr Rob James, Carmarthenshire Labour Leader stated “I am deeply concerned about the comments being made by Plaid Cymru representatives in Ammanford and Betws who have cast doubts over the future of the new Ammanford schools.
“The Welsh Labour Government have invested over £1.4 billion in the last six years under it’s 21st century schools programme and we are keen to see Carmarthenshire children benefit from this investment.
“We have been calling for a date in which the public will be consulted on the plans for the new Ammanford area schools for some time to avoid the issues we have seen with Plaid’s attempt to close Ysgol Blaenau and Mynyddygareg. We must hear the voices of local residents, especially the pupils, on what would be best for the Ammanford area. Rather than plans just being presented to residents as a fait accompli, we need true consultation – protecting small and rural schools and investing in 21st century schools. It’s a balance.
“Despite months of reassurances that the consultation was coming, we are now being told that there is no consultation, so why are we spending half a million this year on the two schools? There is mass confusion now from this Plaid Cymru-led Council – I have residents approaching me stating that they have heard land has been acquired for the scheme, we have the plans in our capital budget and public documents outlining the schools associated with the scheme, and Plaid Cymru is running around calling it fake news?”
“We are talking about children’s future here, taxpayers money and communities.
“The public deserve answers – Are we progressing with the Ammanford school programme this year? Has it been delayed or shelved? When is the consultation going to be launched? Has land been acquired for the new schools? Why are we spending half a million this year on what they are now calling fantasy plans?
“This is not how you run a council and it’s a warning of the chaos a future Plaid Government would create. Carmarthenshire deserves better than this, it’s time Plaid levelled with residents.”
Alan has a long career of working with children in education. Latterly he ran a busy photography studio and worked for local newspapers. He started one of the first hyperlocals in Wales, which has gone from strength to strength. He is a member of the NUJ and sits on the board of the Independent Community News Network.