Parents protest over Cwmcarn school closure
HUNDREDS of Cwmcarn parents and pupils chanted "save our school" to councillors arriving for Caerphilly's budget meeting last night amid claims they have ignored their request for help.
Campaigner Kelly East said there is a feeling that the council wants to close it either because of surplus places or to make way for Welsh medium school.
She said: "We've knocked on the others'doors, but they've hidden, so we've come here to badger them. There's been a feeling they want to close it for years. But we're a small but great community and this is parent power."
Cllr Dave Rees said it's "astounding" the school hasn't re-opened despite a positive Health and Safety Executive report.
He said: "It leads you to believe there's another agenda. The council has to close three under its 21st Century Schools Programme and it would be an easy option to make Cwmcarn one of them."
Parents waved placards including one which said: "Cwmcarn high school torn apart. Caerphilly council where's your heart?"
The protestors then crammed into the council chamber to hear the budget meeting, standing three-deep at the back of the room.
Ahead of the council meeting, the council's cabinet met and approved a proposal for a budget of £337,466,000 for 2013/14 - £22 million more than this year, which was later ratified by full council.
Council tax will rise by 2.35 per cent to try and raise an extra £1.7 million.
The council had to make savings of £5,091,000 ahead of this budget, with a further £6,099,000 needed to be found before March 2016.
On top of these savings, social services will be required to make savings of £1,845,000 for 2014/15 and a further £1,427,000 ahead of 2015/16.
The increase in council tax will mean the 58,700 Band D households will pay an extra 40.5p a week, taking their annual payments up to £918.84p.
The local authority has £5,297,000 of additional costs this year, including £2,087,000 extra for schools, £200,000 in landfill tax increases while it will cost £100,000 to re-introduce bulky household waste collections.
It must also find £530,000 to make up an estimated £530,000 shortfall in its pension scheme for 2012/13.
Despite these pressures, it still has £10,597,000 in its general fund and will continue with its living wage scheme, giving a minimum £7.45p per hour to employees.