WELSHPOOL can now “boast” that it has two of the finest primary schools: “in Wales if not the whole UK,” despite all the problems to get them built.
At a meeting of Powys County Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday, May 23, councillors agreed the extra £150,000 to cover the building costs of Welshpool Church in Wales school.
This will see the costs for the 360 space Church in Wales primary school come to £11.731 million.
The cabinet also agreed to review both the Church in Wales and Ysgol Gymraeg y Trallwng building projects.
This is so that the authority can learn lessons from the problems that had hampered the schemes and saw them eventually split into two separate projects.
Education portfolio holder, Cllr Pete Roberts said: “This is the final report on the additional funding required to be transferred to balance the books in respect of the Church in Wales school project.
“Also, to establish a review into the funding and the problems that occurred.”
When completed the lessons learned review will be shared with staff and brought to Cabinet and the Governance and Audit committee.
Interim director of corporate services Emma Palmer told councillors that building Ysgol Gymraeg y Trallwng was expected to cost less than anticipated and this would effectively balance out the £150,000 overspend.
Powys County Councillor for Welshpool Llanerchydol ward, Cllr Graham Breeze said: “There are people outside of this authority who may choose to reflect that their delaying tactics have led to great costs to the taxpayers of this county.
“We owe an apology to the many young students who were looking forward to moving into these state of the art buildings and never got a chance due to the delays.
“Some of the issues were clearly beyond control such as companies going out of business and Covid-19 but nevertheless there are lots of lessons to be learnt.
“The good news is that the town of Welshpool boasts two of the finest educational facilities in Wales and indeed UK, something our children and staff have waited so long and patiently for.”
He added that the schools were a “shining example” to the rest of the county of the merits of “school modernisation and transformation.”
Cllr Breeze als urged the Cabinet to fund improvement to the Welshpool High School facilities.
School transformation manager, Marianne Evans said: “I’d like to point out there’s far more robust governance around the programme than when we started this in 2015/2016.”
“We will continue to learn with each project as we go forward.”
The new school buildings were approved back in January 2017 with the total costs of £13.7million agreed by the Welsh Government in December that year.
But problems with the projects started in 2018 when Cadw confirmed that Ysgol Maesydre had been given Grade II listed status after been contacted by people concerned that the former site of Welshpool Grammar School would be demolished.
This saw the council come up with a new scheme to build a 150 place school incorporating Maesydre rather than demolishing it.
In 2019, Dawnus the firm who were meant to build the schools went bust leaving the Church in Wales school partially built.
Further problems have then been caused the Covid-19 pandemic and the costs of building materials driven up by inflation and the cost of living crisis.
In January 2021, pupils first entered the new Church in Wales primary school.
Earlier this month the Ysgol Gymraeg y Trallwng moved into its new home.