Council proposes demolishing primary school building
Nicholas Thomas – Local Democracy Reporter
Demolition could be the solution for an unsafe building at a Newport school which has become a magnet for vandals and trespassers.
Pupils and teachers this week started their second successive academic year in temporary accommodation, two miles away from Millbrook Primary School.
The city council’s cabinet will meet next week to decide on a proposal to knock down the school’s main building, which was deemed unsafe by inspectors in the summer of 2022.
Council documents show specialists said “the school building should not be re-occupied in its current condition”, and demolition was recommended owing to the “significant health and safety risks” linked to the vacant building.
If the demolition goes ahead, the council’s plan is to build a new school, hopefully with the Welsh Government agreeing to provide part of the funding.
Learning at Millbrook Primary – a school in Bettws – will continue at the adult training centre in Brynglas “in the meantime”.
As reported in August by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the situation has cost the council an extra £125,000 over the course of the past year, comprising £25,000 on repairs at Millbrook Primary and £100,000 on running costs for classes at the temporary site in Brynglas.
The council will face a further estimated bill of £600,000 for the demolition, and there are likely to be more additional costs incurred this academic year due to the ongoing need to transport Millbrook Primary’s 276 pupils to their temporary classrooms.
To date, Newport Transport has put on extra buses to help shuttle pupils between Bettws and Brynglas at the beginning and end of the school day.
Despite these additional costs for transport and for knocking down the vacant school building, council documents show experts have suggested “the demolition and replacement of the building would not take significantly longer than a repair and refurbishment”.
And there are questions around the ongoing safety of the empty Millbrook Primary site, which the council said has become a target for “regular break-ins, antisocial behaviour and vandalism despite extensive efforts to secure the building”.
Measures to protect the school from troublemakers include the recent hiring of “round-the-clock security” on a “temporary basis”.
The cabinet will make a final decision on the demolition proposal at a meeting on Wednesday September 13.
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