Council drops plans to build new Welsh medium primary school
Hannah Neary, local democracy reporter
A council has dropped plans to build a new Welsh medium primary school.
Councillors have agreed to discount land in Brackla, Bridgend as the site of a new school after a study revealed the land was unsuitable.
Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC) ruled out land at Brackla Hill as the preferred location of a replacement school for Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Ogwr after experts found the land would not be an ideal location.
Council leader Huw David said Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Ogwr, currently situated at Princess Way, Brackla, is “at capacity” and the council will be exploring “alternative options” for a new site.
“We do have to ensure that we also develop and increase the capacity of Welsh-medium education in the north of Bridgend. That commitment is still there.”
A report by Lindsay Harvey, the council’s corporate director for education and family support, stated there would be “a significant reduction in the amount of public open space available on the site”.
Councillors were urged to look at other areas in the county borough for building the new school and agreed to discount the site at a cabinet meeting held on Tuesday February 09.
Many residents were opposed to the council building a school on land at Brackla Hill with around 5,000 people signing petitions objecting to the plan.
A local campaign group called Save Our Fields was established by Brackla residents who wanted to keep the field as an open green space for exercise.
Cllr Charles Smith, cabinet member for education and regeneration, said: “We do have other options now so it’s good news for the constituents of Brackla but it’s also good news for the parents and young people who want Welsh medium education.
“My disposition has always been preserving open spaces. It is a win win situation.”
‘Welsh medium education’
Cllr Nicole Burnett, cabinet member for social services and early help, said the Morfa ward, which she represents, has “very little green space” and many locals walk from there to fields in Brackla for outdoor exercise.
She added: “I do see this as being hugely positive as a local member of a neighbouring ward. Green space is very important.
“It’s extremely difficult as a Bridgend member when I know the level of public opposition and I know the reasons behind that. We have to work from an evidence base though.
“The extensive work that has been carried out will ensure the preservation of Brackla Hill as a green open space.”
Cllr David said: “The value of undertaking the feasibility study was that we were able to see the evidence of the value of that public open green space to the community of Brackla.
“We take into account the views of the public and the value of our green public spaces.”
Richard Young, cabinet member for communities, said: “When a local authority announces a feasibility study it doesn’t mean that a decision has been made.
“I’d like to reassure members and the public we will never take lightly a decision to remove a public open space.”