COUNCILLORS in Monmouthshire have agreed to prioritise building a new school in Abergavenny over Chepstow despite protestations from local members.

The local authority’s strategic outline plan for the second phase of its 21st Century Schools programme focus on Abergavenny while pushing a redeveloped Chepstow School back into a new third phase.

The first phase has seen a new school opened in Caldicot last month, with a new building set to open in Monmouth in late 2018.

Cllr Richard John, cabinet member for children and young people, told members that there was a “clear and compelling case” for Abergavenny’s King Henry VIII school to be redeveloped.

A comparison of the two existing school’s repair cost backlogs, surplus places and local deprivation had been assessed by council officers.

Prior to the meeting three Chepstow councillors had warned that delaying a Chepstow rebuild for another 10 years could lead to a “real spiral of decline”.

A letter, cosigned by Conservative Cllrs Paul Pavia (Larkfield), David Dovey (St. Kingsmark) and Louise Brown (Shirenewton) described the changes as a “slap in the face” for local staff, parents and pupils.

Cllr Pavia, appearing at the meeting remotely, added: “Chepstow’s performance both academically and financially has been exceptional, despite challenges it has to face locally.”

Cllr Dimitri Batrouni (St. Christophers) agreed with his cross-party counterparts and said Chepstow needed to compete with Wyedean and the new neighbouring Caldicot school.

The Labour councillor added: “This is a big, big blow for Chepstow.”