PARENTS from a Torfaen school facing closure in 2017 are preparing to take their fight to court.

Victoria Primary School in Abersychan, along with Brynteg Nursery, are scheduled to close in September 2017 as part of the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools programme.

But parents at the schools are challenging their council over the decision to close the sites after receiving legal aid, and will be represented in their fight by a legal firm from Pontypool, Watkins & Gunn Solicitors.

Parent Melanie Smith, 42, of Hospital Road, Abersychan, said: “We feel that we have been left with no option but to take our fight into a court arena.

“Our three councillors have stressed throughout this campaign over the closure that the school is the heart of our community, and we could not agree more with them.

“This school is more than just the bricks – it is part of the fabric of the Abersychan community, and it is dear to all connected to it – the staff, the parents and particularly the children.”

Following the decision to close the schools last month, first voted for by Torfaen’s cabinet, a second statutory notice period opened, allowing objections to be registered.

This closes on Wednesday March 30, after which a report will be presented to senior councillors again.

Steph Williams, who has two children at the affected schools, said: “The challenge gives the parents hope, and a belief, that we can fight this decision – there is a buoyancy and upbeat feel among the parents.”

“All those involved will fight until the bitter end. We know that we are trying everything to keep the schools open.”

“The support we have received so far has been tremendous, and we urge people to continue in doing this to help our cause,” she added.

The Head teacher of Victoria Primary, Joy Dando, and chairman of governors, Rita Wilkins, issued a joint statement following the announcement of the legal challenge.

They said: “We are immensely proud of the parents and relatives of Victoria Primary as well as the wider community who have supported us.

“They are a credit to Abersychan and this school.”

The campaigners have secured the services of Michael Imperato, a partner at Watkins & Gunn and a leading expert in administrative and public law, to help.

He has acted for individuals and campaign groups in a number of high profile judicial review cases against national and local government in Wales.

Mr Imperato said: “Whilst Victoria Primary School has expensive maintenance to undergo, the school is full and has good education standards.

“It seems ludicrous to me that Torfaen council would propose to lose a school which is in high demand and is performing well, just because of maintenance issues, which are fixable.

He added: “Primary school is an important time for the development of children so uprooting them when they are settled could have adverse effects, which have not been considered.

“Victoria Primary is the latest example of how council’s fail to follow the correct consultation procedure when proposing to close schools.

“I have worked on a number of cases which are similar to Victoria Primary School where I have been able to challenge and fight the decision as a result of poor consultation procedures.”

In response to the legal bid, a council spokesperson said: “We’re still in the statutory objection period which ends at the end of March. The report will then go back to cabinet.”