THE DECISION to hand the job of designing a new Islwyn secondary school to private contractors has been deferred by Caerphilly council’s cabinet.

Recommendations to use external cost consultants, contract and project managers, and designers from the private sector were not discussed in detail by cabinet members of the Labour-run council at a meeting on Wednesday.

Plaid Cymru had questioned a recommendation not to use in-house staff, claiming it would put jobs in jeopardy. The council’s trade union, UNISON, has also raised concerns.

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.

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

Councillor Colin Mann, leader of the Plaid Cymru group on Caerphilly council, said he welcomed the decision to give the opportunity to discuss the report in greater detail.

He added: “There is genuine concern from our building consultancy staff and trade unions that the in-house team were not being given the opportunity to do this work. We look forward to the right decision being made.”

The new school is scheduled to open in September 2016, something officers have called a “challenging timescale”. The council said this remains the target date.