South West Wales

Funding fear over Furnace school rebuild in Llanelli

Design of the new school in Furnace
Image caption Carmarthenshire council said it was ready to start work on the new school next year

Two people, including a councillor, are being urged to withdraw objections to a £14m replacement school in Llanelli with fears the funding may be lost.

Carmarthenshire council chief executive Mark James said he believes the Welsh government will withdraw its offer of £10m if there are delays.

Councillor Sian Caiach says the school at Furnace is too big and in the wrong location. A governor has also objected.

The Welsh government said it could not discuss the funding implications.

Councillor Caiach and a parent governor at the school have both lodged objections to the plans.

Under government rules if there are any formal objections the final decision has to go to the Welsh education minister.

Mr James told the council executive: "The delay could be anything up to a year.

"I would expect the assembly to take the offer off the table.

"The assembly is desperate for capital. They will give it to another authority that's in a position to proceed.

"There is grave potential it would be lost to us for a number of years."

Portable classrooms

Executive board member for education Gwynne Wooldridge said the council had not anticipated any objections and wanted to start work soon.

"99.99% of the people I talk to welcome the project. I can't for the life of me understand this," he added.

He and his colleagues are to write to Ms Caiach, a People First councillor and former assembly candidate, urging her to withdraw her objection.

The executive board will also ask the school to approach the parent governor to reconsider the objection.

The new school would replace the existing one.

The council said conditions at the school were cramped with 153 of the 201 pupils being taught in mobile classrooms. BBC Wales has reported about pupils being taught in corridors due to a lack of space.

Ms Caiach told BBC Wales she felt the council had failed to consult people properly over its plans and there were many concerns about the project.

She said it would be built on a green field site and there were also traffic issues.

"There is also an objection to the size of the school - there are 200 pupils there now but the new school is for 450," she said.

She said the school would have to cater for pupils from across Llanelli.

Ideally she would like the council to build a number of smaller schools across the town to cater for the growing demand for Welsh language education.

"There are other sites available which are brown field sites that are more central," she added.

She also said she was sceptical about Mr James' claims the Welsh government funding could be lost.

A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said funding was approved in principle in July 2010.

It said if there were any objections to the proposal to enlarge the school they would have to be considered by ministers.

"In light of the potential role that Welsh ministers might need to play in Carmarthenshire's plans, it would not be appropriate to comment any further," he added.

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