Councillors agree extra funding for new £70 million school
Saul Cooke-Black, local democracy reporter
A new school for pupils aged three-19 in Abergavenny, costing nearly £70 million, will go ahead after councillors approved funding to meet an increase in costs.
Monmouthshire councillors have agreed to back the investment, totalling £69.79 million, for a new all-through school on the current site of King Henry VIII school.
The school will include nursery, primary, secondary and sixth-form provision, as well as Flying Start, provision for children with Additional Learning Needs and a wellbeing centre providing behaviour support.
It will replace King Henry VIII and Deri View schools, serving 1,900 pupils from 2024.
Welsh medium school Ysgol Gymraeg Y Fenni will move to the current site of Deri View school as part of the plans, allowing it to expand its provision.
The Welsh Government will contribute around £47 million towards the project as part of its Sustainable Learning Communities Programme, with Monmouthshire council paying £22.7 million.
The budget has increased from £43 million following changes to the design, site constraints and inflationary costs.
Cllr Martyn Groucutt, cabinet member for education, said the school represents “a fantastic step forward for Abergavenny as a community”.
“It represents a huge investment, the biggest investment in Abergavenny since the building of Nevill Hall Hospital,” he told a full council meeting on Thursday.
Cllr Groucutt gave assurance in response to concerns around safeguarding, saying that older and young pupils would be in separate buildings on the site.
Cllr Richard John, Conservative group leader, said it was a “momentous day” for the council.
He said the council would have to “front up to the public that we have made a decision to invest £70 million in the life chances of young people”.
“That means we are not going to have as much money to put into roads or other capital priorities, but I really do not think there is anything more important that we could spend £70 million on than the life chances of young people,” he said.
Cllr Paul Pavia said the investment would mean “less for other capital works”, but that it was the “right thing to do” due to the benefits of the development.
However deputy leader, Cllr Paul Griffiths, disputed any suggestion the project would take away £70 million from the council’s available funding, due to the Welsh Government contribution of £47 million.
“Today is clearly a day for celebration for the whole council and for the people of Abergavenny,” he said.
Cllr Mary Ann Brocklesby, leader of the council, said it was “a very exciting day” and that it represented “one of the biggest investments ever in the county of Monmouthshire”.
“We are doing it for the future generations, we are doing it to make the best possible start in life for our young people”, she added.
Cllr Armand Watts said £47 million was “a colossal amount of money” for the Welsh Government to invest.
“In many ways it’s like winning the lottery,” he said.
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