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Controversy Over New Gwersyllt Welsh School Turf Cutting Ceremony

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Friday, Aug 10th, 2012.

Controversy has broken out over a turf cutting ceremony to signal the start of building work at a new Gwersyllt Welsh school.

Several councillors have voiced their frustration at not being invited to the ceremony, despite campaigning for the new school.

The official turf cutting ceremony for the new school on Delamere Avenue, Gwersyllt is due to take place on Tuesday 14th August at 3pm, but a number of councillors said they didn’t know until they read about it in the local press.

Councillor Arfon Jones for Gwersyllt West was the only Gwersyllt councillor not invited to the ceremony.

He said: “I am saddened that the new administration in Wrecsam are using the opening of a new school to score political points by inviting those that opposed the school to the official turf cutting but excluding those that campaigned for it.”

During the consultation process for the school two objection letters were received from local councillors. Cllrs David Griffiths and Michael Williams, who are both attending the ceremony, were amongst those to voice their concerns.

Cllr Jones added: “We shouldn’t use children’s education as a political football; it’s too important for that. There are others who worked hard for this school who have also been excluded including members of Gwersyllt Community Council and staff, parents and governors of Ysgol Plas Coch.”

Leading Liberal Democrat Councillor, Mike Edwards also voiced his concerns, he said: “This Welsh medium school is a welcome new development, not just for Gwersyllt where it is being built, but for the whole of Wrexham. Unfortunately the new Labour-led council has only invited local Labour councillors to the turf cutting ceremony. Most of us did not know about the ceremony until we read about it in the Wrexham Leader!

“All councillors should be invited. And there are many other people who have campaigned for the new school and have not been given an invitation.”

Cllr David Bithell, Leader of the Wrexham Independent Group said “I am meeting the Chief Executive of Wrexham Council on Monday and will ask for an explanation why councillors, especially the local member for Gwersyllt West, has not been invited to the opening of the new school. Let’s hope common sense will prevail and that an apology is given to those who have been excluded.”

However, Leader of the Council Neil Rogers claimed that Cllr Jones was not the local member for the school and that he was following “protocol”.

He said: “The people that have been invited are the two local members for the school from Gwersyllt East and South, the person with responsibility for children’s services, Cllr Mike Williams, myself as leader and the deputy leader Cllr Mark Pritchard.”

Of Councillor Jones not being invited he said: “That councillor is not the local member, if he was the local member he would have been invited. For example with the Western Gateway sod cutting last month Cllr Phil Wynn was invited as he is the local member and when we have the official opening ceremony such as the industrial estate link road opening then all members are invited.

“That’s been the protocol for several years.”

The £5.9m Welsh School was given the go ahead by Welsh Education Minister Leighton Andrews in May and received full planning consent last month.

The community primary school for 3-11 year olds is expected open on Delamere Avenue in September 2013.

The school was brought about as a result of increased parental demand for a Welsh medium school in the area.

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