Cwmcarn High School asbestos problem “not connected” to schools closure programme
The senior councillor responsible for education across Caerphilly County Borough has said problems with asbestos at Cwmcarn High School are unconnected with wider plans to close schools.
Under its 21st Century Schools programme, Caerphilly County Borough Council could close up to three comprehensive schools because of falling numbers.
Speculation has been mounting that because of the problems with asbestos at Cwmcarn, the school could be facing permanent closure.
Cllr Rhianon Passmore, said: “There is a lot of misinformation circulating in the community linking the Cwmcarn situation to the wider 21st Century Schools programme. I must stress that these are completely separate issues. The 21st Century Schools programme is a stand-alone programme involving all schools and is totally unconnected to the problems at Cwmcarn.
“There is no question about whether asbestos is present at the site. It is a known fact that there are large quantities of asbestos material throughout the building, but of most concern to us is the significant amount of asbestos debris present in the ceiling and roof voids as well as the heater cabinets.”
Cwmcarn High School was closed on October 12 last year after a report by Santia Asbestos Management Ltd asked Caerphilly Council to consider whether school buildings should be demolished because of widespread airborne asbestos. Since then, the school’s pupils have relocated to the former Coleg Gwent campus in Ebbw Vale.
But a report published by the Health and Safety Executive laboratory (HSL) has said the original findings by Santia may have been overstated. Another report by company Ensafe, commissioned by the school itself, found the decision by the council to close the school was “understandable” but not supported by any airborne fibre testing sample results.
Cllr Passmore has again defended the decision to close the school with the council drafting in an independent expert to make sense of the seemingly conflicting reports.
She said: “All concerned will be aware that there have been a number of reports and analysis carried out to date and we are currently awaiting the outcome of a new management survey at the school which will give us options for the future of the site.”
She added: “Our priority is also the safety, health and well-being of the pupils and staff and we make no apology for our swift and decisive decision to temporarily close the school site in light of the information that was presented to us back in October.”
According to local reports, more than 100 pupils have left the school since the asbestos scare in October.
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