Jobs and funding at risk at Cwmcarn asbestos school - Gwent AM
1:13pm Friday 22nd February 2013 in News
AN AM accused the Welsh Government of passing the buck over Cwmcarn High, saying its poor attitude is now putting the jobs of staff at risk.
Member for South Wales East Mohammad Asghar blasted the Government and Caerphilly council.
Mr Asghar submitted written questions to education minister Leighton Andrews after being contacted by parents and governors, concerned about future funding and job losses because many parents are now planning to send their children elsewhere.
Cwmcarn’s future has been unclear after asbestos was found there and the school’s 900 pupils were temporarily moved to a site in Ebbw Vale last October. Bussing them the 22 miles there and back will cost around £1.4 million for the rest of the school year.
Two reports gave different interpretations of the scale of the problem, while a third this week recommended reopening part of the building to pupils.
Mr Asghar asked Mr Andrews, to explain what assistance was given to Caerphilly council by the Welsh Government and what assurances could he give there will be no cut in funding if pupilsmove and no job losses.
He also asked what lessons have been learnt from the Cwmcarn saga.
Mr Andrews replied that responsibility lies with the council. He said: “It is not appropriate for me as minister for education and skills to intervene in any local decision-making process.”
Mr Asghar added: “This situation has not only been disruptive to the staff and pupils of Cwmcarn High School but has also been of considerable cost to the taxpayer and therefore it has everything to do with the education minister and the Welsh Government.”
Caerphilly Council did not comment on Mr Asghar’s statement.
COMMENT: Questions to answer
THE WAR of words and discontent swirling around Cwmcarn High School in the wake of the asbestos discovery at the site, seems to be escalating by the day.
Firstly, there was the very real health concern caused by the discovery of potentially dangerous asbestos.
Then there was the uncertainty about the school’s immediate future, when Cwmcarn High was closed and pupils sent home to await further instruction.
Since then the row has shifted in the wake of mixed messages about the levels of asbestos within the school and the risk they posed.
And now there is an understandable fear among parents, that what we are witnessing is the beginning of the end of Cwmcarn High, which they will fight tooth and nail.
But with some people now saying they will not send their children to Cwmcarn High in the future and with concerns about the cost of transporting pupils to and from EbbwVale every day, it is easy to see why parents and staff are getting worried.
The lack of information forthcoming from the council and the Assembly is exacerbating the situation.
And we can fully understand why Assembly Member Mohammed Asghar sent a series of questions to education minister Leighton Andrews about the situation.
What we cannot understand is why the questions were not answered.