No plan to close Cwmcarn High School over asbestos - councillor
6:10pm Monday 11th March 2013 in Gwent news
A SENIOR Caerphilly councillor has hit out at claims the closure of Cwmcarn High School over asbestos fears is linked to the council's plan to tackle surplus spaces in the borough.
Cllr Rhianon Passmore, cabinet member for education, said there was a lot of "miscommunication" circulating in the community and stressed the two are completely separate issues.
She said the 21st Century Schools programme, which could see the closure of three schools in the borough to reduce surplus spaces, involved all schools and is totally unconnected to the problems at Cwmcarn.
Parents, whose children attend the school, now moved to Ebbw Vale, dispute this.
Cllr Passmore said the school remained closed because the authority believes allowing pupils and teachers to return in its current condition would breach its duty of care and would expose occupants to a health risk the council to an uninsured risk.
She said: "There is clearly a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about the current situation and this is causing distress to the whole school community."
"Although the council is not the owner of the school premises, it has a duty of care under the Education Act to the pupils receiving education at Cwmcarn."
The Ty-Sign ward member said there was a significant amount of asbestos debris in the ceiling and roof voids, as well as the heater cabinets, and a senior teacher union representative has stated they would be unwilling for their members to return to work without the removal of the asbestos risk.
She said the council's priority was the safety, health and well-being of the pupils and staff and made no apology for closing the site back in October.
She said action taken by the governing body banning the council from the site had resulted in a significant delay in progressing the required survey to determine what could be done at the site.
A report carried out by the Health and Safety Laboratory on behalf of the governors recommended an assessment to determine the required remediation works, which was completed last month. The outcome is expected shortly.
Last week, we told how around 100 pupils had left the school to join others since it was shut.
Cllr Passmore said the council could not prevent this but said it was working with the school to resolve issues at the site as quickly as possible.
No-one from the governing body was available for comment.