Plaid questions Caerphilly school design plan

6:24pm Monday 12th May 2014

THE opposition group on Caerphilly council has questioned plans to outsource the design of a new Oakdale secondary school to private contractors.

Recommendations to use external cost consultants, contract and project managers, and designers from the private sector will be discussed by cabinet members of the Labour-run council tomorrow.

It comes as a result of proposals to close the existing Pontllanfraith and Oakdale comprehensive schools and build a new school on the Oakdale Plateau 3.

It would see Islwyn West served by the existing Blackwood Comprehensive and a new school site, with the council having secured funding of £20 million to deliver the project.

But councillor Colin Mann, who leads the Plaid Cymru group, says a recommendation not to use in-house staff will put jobs in jeopardy.

He said: “I am very surprised that the proposal going to the cabinet recommends not using our in-house design consultants. They have an enviable reputation.

“They were used when the new Greenhill School in Gelligaer was being designed and built and the council won a string of awards, including being the most energy efficient school in the UK and it showed the authority leading the way.

“Why change something that is not broken for the new Oakdale secondary?

“Giving work to outside companies at the expense of our own team will put up to five jobs at risk during 2015-16.

“It is vital we keep jobs and income in the local community where possible and it doesn’t flow out of our area.”

He added: “If the Labour cabinet approves this, it will be a real slap in the face for its employees and the trade unions. I am writing directly to Cllr Keith Reynolds, the council leader, to express my concerns. Plaid will seriously consider calling in this proposal if the cabinet support it.”

A Labour spokesman said it was “typically daft of Plaid prematurely to try to make political capital out of an issue that has yet to be decided”.

The new school is scheduled to open at the beginning of September 2016, but the report to be presented to cabinet tomorrow (Wed) said it would be a “challenging timescale”.


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