1. ITV Report

'Save our school', say Cwmcarn parents

Cwmcarn High School has been closed since last October. Photo:

Parents and pupils of Cwmcarn High School have told ITV News that they are worried about its future.

It comes after two recent reports, on the asbestos found at the building, said that the level of airborne fibres was much lower than previously thought.

The Health and Safety Executive concluded that Cwmcarn was an "essentially uncontaminated school."

But an investigation last autumn, done on behalf of Caerphilly County Borough Council, said that the level of asbestos fibres in the main building of the school was ten times higher than the recommended guideline.

The Ensafe report agreed with the Health and Safety Executive.

The school also commissioned its own report, via a company called Ensafe. That too said that the levels of asbestos fibres were significantly below those required by the relevant legislation. But it did recommend that part of the school remain shut.

Caerphilly County Borough Council say they have concerns about the accuracy of the Ensafe report. They also argue that the report done by the Health and Safety Executive only looked at the levels of airborne asbestos fibres after the school closed. So now they are conducting a new survey, which will look at the future of the Cwmcarn site.

This has prompted parents to question whether the council has more than just asbestos on the agenda.

Rebecca Davies and Dave Tidmarsh have children in Years 7 and 8 at Cwmcarn High School. Since last October, they have been making the 20-minute journey to the former site of Coleg Gwent in Ebbw Vale, where they were relocated after the asbestos scare.

Parents have launched an online petition to save Cwmcarn, because they think that Caerphilly County Borough Council wants the school building demolished and are using asbestos as an excuse.

Parents have launched an internet campaign.

A local councillor also supports their view. He says that Caerphilly County Borough Council have hundreds of surplus secondary school places, which they need to get rid of.

What people should be aware of, is that running in parallel with this asbestos case, is a programme called the 21st Century Schools programme. That programme agreed about two years ago that the council had to close three comprehensive schools in the county borough of Caerphilly, and open a Welsh-speaking comprehensive school.

– Cllr Dave Rees, Risca West

The council have not commented on these points. But they reiterate that their priority is the health and wellbeing of pupils and staff at the school, and any increased risk to this from asbestos is taken very seriously. Meanwhile many pupils and parents are still not satisfied. They have now got a protest planned for next Monday, to begin what they say, is their fight to save Cwmcarn.

You can see more on that story on the ITV News in Wales at 6pm this evening and much more on The Ferret at 8pm tonight on ITV Cymru Wales.