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Powys councillor seeks assurance for Gwernyfed High School’s long-term future

Gwernyfed High School near Brecon (Pic: Google Streetview)

EDUCATION chiefs are preparing a report which identifies the building improvement work needed and the cost of doing this to a Powys high school.

Liberal Democrat  Powys County councillor for Hay, Gareth Ratcliffe is a governor at Gwernyfed High School and has asked for assurances that there is a long term future for the school which is in the village of Three Cocks between Brecon and Hay-on-Wye.

Cllr Gareth Ratcliffe (Pic: Powys County Council)

Earlier this month the Powys County Council’s Liberal Democrat/Labour Cabinet signed off on a Strategic Outline Programme (SOP) which would see around £300 million invested in building new schools in the county over the next decade.

The Welsh Government has asked local authorities to submit their proposals to their Sustainable Communities for Learning’s programme.

This scheme asks councils to outline a “rolling programme” of proposals for up to nine years.

But the list of proposals from Powys made no mention of Gwernyfed High School.

During the previous Independent/Conservative council administration plans to redevelop Gwernyfed including a new building had been mooted.

This proposal was shelved as the money earmarked for the scheme was moved and spent to complete school building projects in the north of Powys.

According to Cllr Ratcliffe this led to the feeling in the area that Gwernyfed is “forgotten.”

Cllr Ratcliffe said: “We see that the Powys cabinet is entering an ambitious school-building programme.

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“Can the portfolio holder share his plans for Gwernyfed to reassure the community that there is a long-term plan for secondary education in the Gwernyfed catchment.

“What capital investment is planned to deliver a fit-for-purpose school at the present location.”

Education portfolio holder, Liberal Democrat Cllr Pete Roberts said: “Cabinet recently approved a new SOP which outlines our ambition to transform education across Powys and supports our Strategy for Transforming Education 2022-2032.

“The SOP has now been submitted to the Welsh Government for their assessment, which we hope to receive soon.

“I am fully aware of the building condition issues at Gwernyfed and also the works that have happened over the last few years.

“However, I’m also very aware that there continues to be significant issues to be addressed.

“Officers are currently drafting a report for CLT (Corporate Leadership Team) and Cabinet’s consideration which outline the works required and the estimated cost.

“The appropriate funding route will be agreed following this.”

In February it emerged that a pollution incident had occurred at the school and those 800 tonnes of contaminated soil has had to be dug up and taken away from the site.

Kerosene oil was found to have leaked in the drainage system next to the sports hall at the school.

The cost of dealing with the incident was estimated to be £140,000.

The school opened in 1950 and part of it is a Grade II listed Victorian mansion.

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