A REPORT highlighting the extent of asbestos contamination at Cwmcarn High School "vindicates" the council's decision to close it, a Caerphilly cabinet member claimed tonight.

A survey by consultants Ensafe sets out the work required to address the problem at the site before pupils and staff can return.

In a statement released a few minutes ago, Councillor Rhianon Passmore, cabinet member for education, said of the survey: "I hope the community will recognise we had no option but to temporarily close the school in the best interests of pupils and staff."

Last week we reported claims by the school governors and head teacher Jacqui Peplinsky that independent expert Professor Robin Howe, employed to advise the council on three separate asbestos surveys, was not impartial, something he denied.

Cllr Passmore said last night that at the time the school closed, the extent of asbestos contamination affecting the whole site was not known and further investigations were required.

"It is regrettable the council were not permitted to undertake those investigations at the time," she said. "However, we welcome the outcome of the management survey which re-enforces the safety concerns which the council have consistently held."

The Ensafe survey suggests a £1.5 million programme of work is needed to remove the asbestos and make the site safe, said Cllr Passmore.

"This report confirms there is a major asbestos problem at Cwmcarn which needs a considerable amount of time, money and effort to put right," she said.

"The health and wellbeing of the school community has always been paramount and I am confident that we acted properly, swiftly and decisively to protect the pupils and staff at Cwmcarn High School."

The authority is now considering the report and members will be asked to agree a way forward in the near future.