Powys council to close 10 schools in Ystradgynlais area
Multimillion-pound plans to close 10 primary schools and build four replacements have been unanimously backed by councillors in Powys.
The £36m project in and around Ystradgynlais, which also includes the £9.6m refurbishment of a secondary school, was recommended for approval.
It is part of plans to invest £125m on modernising primary schools by 2019.
Protesters say a proposed Welsh medium school at Brynderi, in Ystradgynlais, is not big enough.
Powys council's ruling board approved the closures and the building of four replacement schools.
It also backed a £9.6m revamp of Maesydderwen Comprehensive School in Ystradgynlais.
Councillor David Jones, board member for schools, said: "This is tremendous news for the people of the Ystradgynlais area. The staff at our schools in and around the town do a wonderful job at the moment, but they - and their pupils - are being let down by the buildings they use.
"Today, we have seen a major step forward in our plan to replace these schools with four modern, fit for purpose schools by September 2012.
"It also allows us to pull in some £17m of Welsh Assembly Government funding to pay towards the total bill. However, we need to move quickly as if the schools are not built by the 2012 deadline, we will not be able to access this funding."
The schools are planned to close in August 2012, while the new buildings are set to open at the beginning of the school term the following September.
Formal closure notices
Powys council said the public had two months to object to "formal closure notices" and if there were objections then the decision would be referred to Education Minister Leighton Andrews.
A new school is earmarked for Abercrave for 180 pupils. This will replace Penycae, Caehopkin, Coelbren and Abrecrave.
Penrhos and Glanrhyd schools, together serving 480 pupils, are also set to have a new school which will replace other schools at Gurnos and Cynlais.
A new Welsh medium primary school for 300 pupils is earmarked for Brynderi, replacing Ysgol Ynyscedwyn and Ysgol Cwmtwrch.
But the action group, Parents Against Brynderi, claims the site it is too small, and it is on land owned by a local football club, Cwm Wanderers.
Speaking after the council's decision, group spokesman Geraint Evans said: "We have mixed feelings today.
"It's good news generally that this investment is likely to go ahead, but the proposal as it stands has Brynderi as the preferred site for the Welsh school.
"We fight on, but we are hopeful that the council will look at different sites that were previously rejected for no obvious reasons."
Before the meeting, Mr Evans claimed plans for the Welsh language school were not comparable to proposals for the English medium schools.
He said: "The Welsh school plans to hold 300 pupils and yet the site is half the size of the English medium sites and they plan to hold 240 pupils.
"In the original plans the Welsh school was to have two sports pitches, but now it only has one.
"The council will also have to pay for Cwm Wanderers to relocate and we don't think this is value for money for the taxpayer."
Powys council said the Brynderi site was the most expensive to develop, but it was capable of "comfortably accommodating" a 300-pupil school.
Powys council also plans to modernise its network of secondary schools, which has caused controversy in the county.