TWO new schools are proposed in Ammanford and land has been bought for one of them, the council has confirmed.
And funding for design work has been allocated for a further eight new schools in Carmarthenshire.
It remains early days for these projects – and the Plaid Cymru-Independent council is still carrying out a wider review of education across the county before making further decisions.
Labour councillor Kevin Madge has repeatedly pushed for updates on the plans for Ammanford, and has asked where capital funding that the previous Labour administration set aside for a new school in the town had gone.
Speaking at a meeting of full council this month, Cllr Madge asked: “Is the new school going to be delivered in this administration (up to 2027) or the next decade?”
In response, Plaid cabinet member for education and Welsh language, Cllr Glynog Davies, said Ammanford had not been forgotten and that a new Welsh language school was a priority.
He said he was very concerned about the state of the existing school, Ysgol Gymraeg Rhydaman, and that land had been acquired for a new one. The council was, he said, exploring a type of funding known as the mutual investment model – involving the private sector – for the new one. Funding for most new schools comes from Welsh Government (65%) and local authority (35%).
Fellow Plaid councillor Deian Harries, who represents Ammanford, said he was glad there would be a new school, and added: “I very much hope it will be prioritised.”
In response to questions from the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the council said it had acquired land off Pontamman Road for a new Ysgol Rhydaman. The land is on the left as you drive out of Ammanford towards Glanaman, opposite The Red Kite Inn.
Asked about the money set aside for the new school by the previous Labour administration, the council said its capital programme and been realigned and that projects only received the full budget allocation when they had received full Welsh Government business case approval.
The authority also said it wanted to build new Ysgol Bro Banw in Ammanford. The school is currently on two sites.
Cllr Davies said: “We are proposing to create two new primary schools in Ammanford, one Welsh medium and one dual stream, subject to approval. This project is still in its development stages; however, we will be consulting with the community at the appropriate time.”
Meanwhile, the other eight potential new schools which have funding for design work this financial year are Dewi Sant, Bryngwyn, Maes y Morfa and Ysgol Heol Goffa, all Llanelli; Ysgol Gwenllian, Kidwelly; Llandybie; Laugharne; and a new one in Carmarthen West as part of a major new housing development.
Factors which could impact on their delivery include land availability, environmental surveys, business case approvals and the amount of funding available.
The wider, ongoing review of education in Carmarthenshire was announced at a cabinet meeting in December 2021. The idea is to ensure that the council’s long-term education strategy, including new schools, responds to parental choice, rising construction costs and the impact of Covid pandemic, among other things. Proposals to close primary schools in Mynyddygarreg, near Kidwelly, and Blaenau, Rhydaman, were put on hold at the same meeting.
Asked when the education review would be completed, the council said once councillors, who have been involved from the outset, and cabinet had had an input. The review will then go to cabinet for decision.
Cllr Davies said the council was determined to continue investing in schools, despite the financial challenges faced by all authorities.
“Our children and young people deserve the very best, as they are our future,” he said.