Cwmcarn problems put into context
7:01am Saturday 24th August 2013 in News
THE problems affecting Cwmcarn High School were put into context when Caerphilly council’s leader asked cabinet members to pause for a minute’s reflection before a special meeting to discuss its immediate future.
Pupils will not return in September as was hoped after asbestos-removal work was delayed following the death of contractor James Paul, who was 26.
Council leader Harry Andrews started yesterday's meeting by passing on his thoughts to Mr Paul’s family.
He said: “This is an issue (Cwmcarn High School) that is of great concern to all of us. It is a very small but important agenda that has a very solemn message attached - the fatality of James Paul at Cwmcarn High School. I want to pass our sympathy and best wishes on to his family and ask everyone to stand and pause for a minute’s reflection.”
Following a silence, acting deputy chief executive Sandra Aspinall described how the “only viable option” is pupils returning to Ebbw Vale, where they were based for most of last year while asbestos-removal work took place.
She said: “No-one could have foreseen this tragic accident at the school and we have explored every avenue to keep the children together at the school as a community.”
An inquest opening heard that Mr Paul, from Abertillery, was electrocuted, with an investigation delaying this asbestos-removal work.
While contractors have said this work will now be completed by September 16, further work is needed to replace electricity cables that will take until the end of October. It is hoped pupils will then be able to return on November 4.
Ms Aspinall said the council will now have to pay £100,000 for transport and £98,000 to rent the Coleg Gwent site, which will come out of money set aside for the asbestos work.
Councillor Ken James said: “I am disappointed, we were all looking forward to pupils returning to the school in September. I share the frustrations of the parents, but when you look at all the options, this was obviously the only option.”
Cllr Andrews praised Coleg Gwent staff in helping with the temporary move and members voted unanimously for Cwmcarn to return to Ebbw Vale for the first two months of the school year.
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