COUNCILLORS in Risca have mixed views regarding a Welsh medium primary school being built in the area.

The idea put forward by council officers will be explored further in the new year, with it listed as a priority to be built between 2012 and 2015.

It features in Caerphilly Council’s 21st century schools programme and would cost £6 million.

The local authority’s leader Cllr Lindsay Whittle said a major challenge is satisfying an increasing demand for Welsh medium education. Risca was highlighted as an area with no Welsh medium provision Risca East councillor Stan Jenkins said: "Do we really need it? I can’t see the demand. A few people speak Welsh here, but it’s not a really big Welsh-speaking area. It shouldn’t be forced on people."

If plans go ahead, he is concerned one of Risca’s three primaries- Ty Isaf (with around 110 pupils), Risca (350) and Ty Sign (500)- could make way for it. He added: "Even if they do learn it at primary, the comprehensive doesn’t teach it, so where would they go from there?"

A possibility is that Risca Comprehensive could provide English and Welsh-medium secondary education.

The local authority’s plans propose a Welsh-medium facility for ages seven to 14 in Islwyn, with Risca Comprehensive governor and Risca East councillor Betty Toomer suggesting it could be a suitable site.

She said: "Governors thought it could be used for English and Welsh education, it's big enough and this idea has been put forward."

Risca East councillor Rhiannon Passmore said she will wait until plans are more advanced before forming a view.

Rhian Williams of the Cylch Meithrin Welsh-medium playgroup in Caerphilly said partly because of Assembly Government legislation, more parents are learning Welsh and sending their children to Welsh-medium schools.

She said: "Most primary schools teach England and Welsh, which they probably do in Riscas primaries. So, parents are thinking, why not send their children to a school that teaches Welsh all the time?

"We live in Wales, so Welsh should be our first language."