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Councillors back Borras Welsh medium school plan – rare dissenting voice votes against due to safety concerns

Senior councillors have backed plans to create a new 210 pupil Welsh-medium primary school in Wrexham – despite ongoing concerns about increased pressure on roads and local infrastructure.

The plans to convert the former infants school in Borras into a Welsh-medium primary school were supported by a majority of executive board members at a meeting this morning.

Proposals for the new school, which would eventually be located in the former junior school in Borras, were put forward by Wrexham Council in September 2017 in a bid to help meet the growing demand for Welsh-medium education in the area.

The primary school would have capacity for 210 pupils and would be based at the old Hafod Y Wern school in Caia Park, initially accommodating 15 places for nursery and 15 places for reception classes from September 2019.

It would eventually relocate to its permanent site in Borras infant school in September 2021, with the annual admission numbers increasing to 30 for nursery and reception years. However this would be subject to completion of the 21st Century School building works at Borras Park Community Primary.

Speaking at this morning’s executive board, Leader of Wrexham Council, Cllr Mark Pritchard, described it as a “fantastic announcement” and that it should be supported by all councillors.

The news was welcomed by Cllr Gwenfair Jones, who said: “I would like to congratulate the council that at last there are more spaces for Welsh-medium education.

“It has been a concern that parents aren’t putting their children’s names down in the Gresford and Rossett areas as they know there will be no places offered to them.

“Now places will be offered to them and I am very grateful for that at last.”

However Cllr Dana Davies said that while she welcomes the move towards more Welsh-medium education, she still has concerns about the location and an increase on existing pressures on roads and infrastructure in the Borras area.

Cllr Davies said: “I have concerns about the location. Also when we are looking at the Local Development Plan and the large development on Bryn Estyn, I am concerned from a location point of view.

“I have argued these concerns previously and I don’t believe that it is a site that is a key strategic position for the development potentially coming through as part of the LDP for a Welsh-medium school.”

She added: “I came through at 8:50am and not only do you have the traffic from school, but you also have bus pick ups for the secondary school.

“The traffic on that road and the infrastructure is not going to be sufficient for what we are talking about pupil numbers with two schools next to each other.”

It was explained to the meeting that the site in Borras had been chosen specifically due to demand for Welsh-medium education from families in the Gresford, Rossett and Marford areas.

Cllr David Kelly, lead member for planning and corporate services, added: “I understand the concerns, but this report in my understanding is to address the current demand in county borough for the lack of Welsh-medium and need.

“The issue over LDP per say is where developments could take place. These will have to be addressed by new schools in those locations.

“To try and address the LDP issues within this isn’t feasible.”

In a rare sighting on the executive board the report didn’t receive the usual unanimous vote, with Cllr Bill Baldwin stating that he couldn’t support the recommendation due to fears over safety and ‘how dangerous it will be’.

The report was voted through with eight councillors backing the report.

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