Funding fears cast doubt on new Welsh school bid

Reporter:

Claire Gallagher

PLANS for a new Welsh medium school in Wrexham have suffered a major setback.

The Welsh Assembly Government is planning to defer for a year funding totalling £4.2 million for the proposed school on Delamere Avenue, Gwersyllt.

The issue has have sparked major controversy in the community with rival factions emerging for and against the project.

But now the future remains uncertain as funding could be withdrawn for a year until 2012-13.

An email from Malcolm Hobbs, of the Capital Funding Branch of the Welsh Assembly to directors of education at Wrexham Council sent last week, reads: “The Business Minister will be issuing a written statement over the course of the next few days and that statement will make reference to ‘Tranche 3’ projects that have been approved and that these project will be deferred until financial year 2012-13.

“However, you will be aware that we are currently arranging meetings with directors to discuss all transition projects including T3.

“Decisions on how we meet our commitments in line with budget availability will be made once those discussions have taken place.”

The plans for the Welsh medium school in Gwersyllt formed part of the ‘Tranche 3’ project.

The email has been published on Plaid Cymru’s blog, which questions whether the move is to subsidise university tuition fees for Welsh students because of the funding gap.

Speaking about the plans to delay the school, Plaid Cymru councillor Marc Jones said: “This is bad news, especially for Plas Coch, which is already
oversubscribed.”

Another Plaid Cymru councillor, Arfon Jones, said: “I cannot make any comment until I have seen the explanation from the Minister as to why it has been put back.”

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said: “We announced in July which school capital building proposals we had approved under ‘Tranche 3’ of the’ 21st Century Schools’ transitional funding arrangements.

“We are in discussions with all local authorities with approved projects, including Wrexham, to see how best these proposals can be taken forward, taking into account the significant reductions in the capital budget of the Welsh Assembly Government arising from the UK Government’s CSR (Comprehensive Spending Review).”

See full story in the Leader

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