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Carmarthenshire Education West Wales

Claims closure-threatened campus isn’t in such poor condition as has been said

Carmarthenshire councillor Kevin Madge, who is worried about the possible closure of Coleg Sir Gar's Ammanford campus (Pic: Rob Dalling)

A COUNCILLOR worried about the proposed closure of Coleg Sir Gar’s Ammanford campus has claimed its condition isn’t as bad as has been said.

Cllr Kevin Madge said he would like more transparency from the college about the state of the buildings, with “all the cards on the table”.

He said: “I’m challenging them to make all the information known.”

A fortnight ago it emerged that the college proposed closing the Ammanford campus as part of an overhaul of its footprint, with provision moved 17 miles west to an upgraded Pibwrlwyd campus, near Carmarthen.

A letter from Minister for Education, Jeremy Miles, to Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MS, Adam Price, said the facilities at Ammanford were “generally in poor or very condition”, costly to maintain and inefficient.

Cllr Madge, who represents Garnant in the Amman Valley, said he had received information indicating that the campus buildings weren’t in such a poor state, although he declined to say more when asked.

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The Labour councillor wants the campus, where his son learned vocational skills, to remain open long term. He said requiring students to travel to the Pibwrlwyd campus would, in his view, be “unacceptable”.

“The college is important to the Amman Valley,” said Cllr Madge. “Everything seems to be disappearing here.”

Mr Miles’s letter also said the Ammanford campus was liable to flooding and in a designated flood zone which limited the potential for future development. He said he had been assured that support would be in place for students and staff, with transport provided for students from Ammanford to the Pibwrlwyd campus “throughout the transition”.

The letter also said that Coleg Sir Gar had proposed upgrading the Pibwrlwyd campus as part of a wider review in 2017, and that a strategic outline case had been approved in 2023.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked Coleg Sir Gar if the 2017 review had included the future closure of the Ammanford campus, for more information about its condition rating, and whether that rating had deteriorated or stayed the same in recent years.

A college spokeswoman said: “The college’s 2017 strategic outline programme identified investment at Pibwrlwyd campus as a priority project, which was approved in principle, subject to business case approval.

The strategic outline case submitted in 2023 included a full options appraisal which identified relocating facilities from Ammanford to the Pibwrlwyd campus to create a new state-of-the-art, sustainable vocational and technical training centre.” The college didn’t answer the condition rating questions.

College chiefs are now working with Welsh Government officials to finalise their plans, which would also result in the Jobs Well campus, Carmarthen, closing. An outline business case is expected to be submitted in spring, 2025. The college said its upgraded Pibwrlwyd campus would improve the student experience, include extra recreational facilities, and ensure financial stability.

Plaid MS Mr Price described the proposed closure of the Ammanford campus as a “huge blow” for the town and has sought answers from Mr Miles, such as whether he had raised any objections or concerns and whether he envisaged a full public consultation. “As someone who grew up in this community, I can attest to the importance of the college as an invaluable local educational institution,” said Price.

The Welsh Government said colleges were responsible for the management of their estate and and that closing any campus was a local decision.

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