Anger as final decision made to merge two Radnorshire schools

Reporter:

Jonny Drury

“It is just another one of Powys’ stupid ideas.” That is the view of one objector as Powys County Council (PCC) voted to confirm that Llandrindod and Builth Wells High Schools will close next year.

The long running saga came to an end on Tuesday in a cabinet meeting, as members agreed to close both schools as they currently are.

They will close on August 31, 2018, and re-open in September 2018, as one school over two sites.

The final decision ends years of uncertainty, which has seen a fierce backlash from people linked to both schools.

A consultation period was extended by PCC with 1,788 people lodging objections to the local authority, however campaigners against the closure believe their claims have fallen on deaf ears.

Adam Johnstone, part of the Keep Builth Wells High School open action group, said: “The group are very, very disappointed with Tuesday’s decision.

“There have been nearly 2,000 objections which haven’t been listened to.

“Everything just seems like it is a process thing, a tick box exercise.

“We are not happy with the process, and the way things have been done.

“It has just been a process to help PCC get their way.”

A number of documents were shown to cabinet members, citing reasons from parents and other objectors as to why the closure of both schools would have a detrimental effect.

Reasons included cuts in funding, not raising school standards, and an economic impact on the communities.

Comments said it was “setting the new school up to fail,” “a quick fix that will not benefit the students,” and “just another one of Powys’ stupid ideas.”

Llandrindod High School governor Maurice Thorn has labelled the decision ridiculous, and wouldn’t be  surprised if a legal challenge against the council was mounted.

He said: “I am hugely disappointed by this, it just shows that they haven’t listened to anyone.

“It would not surprise me at all if a legal challenge would be mounted, but that couldn’t come from the governors.

“It could come from parents now, or parents of children coming to the school in the future.”

Mr Thorn believes PCC has ignored the inspectorate’s advice, and will make minimal savings from the move.

He added: “Estyn have said the move will maintain standards.

“Also, they have said there will be £123,000 savings, but that is without extra travelling costs.

“I just think it is ridiculous.”

See full story in the County Times

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