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Asbestos-hit Cwmcarn High School to reopen

Published in News at 07:40, Thursday April 18th, 2013. Last updated at 14:27, Monday April 22nd, 2013

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Cwmcarn High School is to reopen after councillors agreed to spend £1 million to remove asbestos from buildings.

At a special meeting on Wednesday, councillors also agreed to the building of temporary classrooms.

They were told asbestos removal will cost £700,000 and the temporary classrooms £300,000.

Pupils could now return for the new school year in September.

Cllr Rhianon Passmore, Cabinet Member for Education said: “I welcome the decision and I’m sure the whole school community will be delighted that a way forward has been agreed.

“We took a very difficult, but correct decision last October to temporarily close the school. This was done in the best interest of all the pupils and staff at Cwmcarn High. Both the school and the council were faced with a unique set of circumstances requiring unprecedented action in order to resolve the matter in the best interest of all concerned at the school site.”

The school was closed on October 12 last year after a report by Santia Asbestos Management Ltd recommended that school buildings should be demolished because of widespread airborne asbestos. Since then, the school’s pupils have re-located 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.

The latest report, again commissioned by the school and undertaken by Ensafe, stated asbestos removal and remediation works could total almost £1m.

Councillors voted for this out of two realistic options.

The other would have been to send Years 7 to 9 to Risca Community Comprehensive, Years 10 and 11 to Pontllanfraith Comprehensive and sixth formers to Coleg Gwent.

Councillors were told however the option could open up the possibility of legal action against the local authority.

The move would have cost £300,000.

Conservative South Wales East AM Mohammad Asghar welcomed the council’s decision.

He said: “I very much welcome this wonderful news which will enable Cwmcarn High School to reopen in September.”

“I congratulate the parents, pupils and staff at Cwmcarn who have campaigned tirelessly for action to be taken to keep the school open.”

“This is a great day for the community of Cwmcarn.”

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  • Jan

    Caerphilly council have then got a responsibility to start removing asbestos in all the other schools in caerphilly like cefn forest primary whose current headteacher inherited the problem.