Parents fight to save Rhondda primary school
dubbed 'the heart of the community'
Ynyswen Infants School could close in September under plans from Rhondda Cynon
Taf council, but more than 800 people have signed a petition calling on the
authority to think again
Hundreds of parents are fighting to save a school dubbed "the heart of
Ynyswen Infants School in Rhondda could close in September next year under
a proposal made by Rhondda Cynon Taf council, with pupils transferring to
three other schools.
The authority has said that Ynyswen is too small to survive, with "significant"
surplus places at 39%, well above the 25% limit suggested by the Wales Audit
The council has the most surplus school places of all the 22 Welsh local authorities
and has been warned by Education Minister Leighton Andrews that immediate
action must be taken.
Formal objections to the closure plan are now being invited by RCT and must
be lodged by the beginning of May.
More than 800 people have already signed a petition calling on the authority
to reconsider the move, citing the importance of small schools in the survival
of Welsh traditions and "as loving centres of academic excellence for
Many parents also claim Ynyswen is a centre of excellence for the teaching
of children with learning difficulties and fear this expertise will be lost
if the school is closed. They claim children with special needs feel more
relaxed in Ynyswen because it is a small school.
Mum Catherine Williams, of Ninian Street, Treorchy, whose children have attended
Ynyswen, is among those fighting the plan.
She said: "The school is at the heart of the community, a community that
needs a focal point. It has just celebrated its centenary and is an important
part of local history.
"Ynyswen has provided its pupils with excellent education - both my children
left the school with excellent results, as well as good values and confidence.
"Ynyswen allows its pupils to grow in a safe and happy environment.
"I do not feel that pupils would get the same from a larger, all-through
school, where they are mixing with pupils who are older and more street wise."
If the plan receives final approval, the mainstream pupils from Ynyswen will
transfer to Penyrenglyn (corr) Primary School about a mile away in Treherbert,
the autistic spectrum disorders SEN class will transfer to Ysgol yr Eos (corr)
Primary School in Penygraig and the communication disorders class to Williamstown
(corr) Primary School in September 2014.
But some parents of pupils at Penyrenglyn school have also objected, claiming
the school does not have the capacity to accept the Ynyswen pupils and that
education standards will suffer as a result.
Some are also worried the surrounding roads will be swamped with extra traffic,
making them dangerous.
But RCT council has said Penyrenglyn can easily take in the extra pupils and
that any additional traffic is unlikely to exceed the limits set when the
school was built a decade ago.
The council has also dismissed concerns about school capacity if four housing
plots identified in the local development plan are actually developed.
It said no planning applications have been submitted and, given the current
economic climate, it is difficult to see this happening.
But the council's assurances have failed to allay the community's fears.
In a letter to the authority, Coun Cennard (corr) Davies claimed any money
saved by the closure of Ynyswen school will be a false economy "when
the resulting social cost is so high".
He said it would be yet another blow to an already deprived area.
"People look to their civic leaders to show confidence in the future
of their community," said Coun Davies, the member for Treorchy, Ynyswen
"Closing a school sends out all the wrong messages and encourages people
to move to more affluent communities, a trend that is all too common in the
Heads of the Valleys area.
Over £26M Invested in Highways since
Cllr Anne Crimmings, Cllr Sharon Rees and Cllr Andrew Morgan inspecting the
£300k Highways works in Llwydcoed
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council is tackling pot holes and winter road damage head
on by announcing a further £7,102M funding for its Highways Investment
This latest announcement is on top of the staggering £19m that has been
invested since 2011 which will see the total investment rise to over £26M
- making this scheme one of the largest in Wales and further showing the Council's
commitment to investing in the infrastructure within the County Borough, despite
extensive budget cuts from the UK Government.
Over 140 miles of highway have already been resurfaced thanks to the multi-million-pound
scheme and over 100 streets/roads are now set to benefit during 2013/14.
Councillor Andrew Morgan, Cabinet Member for Frontline Services, said:
"The Council has recognised the concerns expressed by the public at the
damage caused from the harsh winters we have experienced and it is for that
very reason we are once again investing in our roads during 2013/14 and beyond.
"Our significant investment of £19m since 2011 has already made
a substantial difference to residents and the announcement that a further
£7.102M has been allocated demonstrates the Council's on-going commitment
to investing in the infrastructure within the County Borough.
"The highway improvements have taken place right across Rhondda Cynon
Taf with every ward of the County Borough benefiting.
"The total investment since 2011 will now rise to over £26M and
see even more streets and roads benefit from the successful scheme. Despite
the savage cuts that the Council is facing thanks to the UK Government - the
Council realises the importance of a robust highways infrastructure and the
fact that this investment not only improves our highway network but also supports
local jobs and growth. It is for these reasons that the Council will continue
to invest where it matters despite a future of cuts ahead. "
"I would like to thank the residents of the streets that have been targeted
for their support, as this has led to the speedy completion of the roads highlighted
"The highways workforce are heavily dependant on support of residents
and with further targeted works due to start shortly that may cause some minor
disruptions, I would urge residents to continue to back us whilst these essential
works are carried out as it is for their longer term benefit.
The 140miles that have already been covered by the scheme is the equivalent
of travelling the whole of Wales from North to South from Wrexham to Pontyclun!
A whopping 80,000 pot holes have also been filled and patched under the scheme
along with 50 footways being resurfaced and replaced.
Over 400 streets and roads have benefited from the investment ensuring that
residents and motorists can see a marked improvement as they travel around
the County Borough.
As the scheme drives forward the Council is urging residents to continue to
support the scheme by taking heed of the temporary traffic signs e.g. no road
markings, reduced speed limits and diversions whilst these essential works
are carried out as it is for their safety and longer term benefit.
Concert celebrates 100 years of Treorchy
THE first 100 years of the Park & Dare Theatre have been celebrated with
a spectacular centenary curtain-raiser involving the whole community.
To mark the important milestone in the Treorchy theatre's history, dozens
of performers joined forces to put on a memorable show filled with music,
dancing and drama.
The contemporary work, entitled Cân Yr Adeilad/Song of the Building,
reflected the rich history of the Park & Dare, the Rhondda and the wide
range of music associated with both cinematic and live performances at the
The entire project was composed by Jack White and starred the people of Rhondda
Jack said: "I wanted to create something that reflected the heritage
of the building and captured a sense of contemporary life in Treorchy.
"Using electronic voices, sound effects and a variety of other sounds
to run through the work, as a thread connecting ideas, the piece sounds as
one whole made up of many parts."
The project enlisted the help of schools, students, musicians and singers,
who were involved in a series of workshops and open rehearsals in the run-up
to the show. The final piece was performed live last week, along with the
launch of a commemorative 12-track CD of the project.
Coun Robert Bevan said: "Song of the Building, was a huge success and
it was all down to the hard work and commitment of so many people.
"What a brilliant start to the centenary celebrations and what a fantastic
way to celebrate the historical past of this wonderful theatre. We have so
much to look forward to in the year ahead.
"The Park & Dare has a proud history, having served its community
for the past 100 years. Now is the time to celebrate that past as well as
looking to the future."
RCT Senior Youth Orchestra, RCT Chamber Choir, RCT Tutor Quartet, Gelli Primary
School, Penpych Community Primary School, Pen-yr-Englyn Community Primary
School, Ysgol Hen Felin Special School, and Kizzy Crawford, of Ysgol Gyfun
Rhydywaun, all performed to the masses on the night.
The stage show has already won the prestigious David Bedford Music Education
Award in recognition of the outstanding contribution it is providing as part
of the Park & Dare Theatre's Centenary programme.
The David Bedford Music Education Award is presented to projects which involve
composers working in an educational or community setting. Previous winners
include Music For Youth and English Touring Opera.
Cân Yr Adeilad/Song of the Building, was a musical production in partnership
with RCT Music Service, RCT Theatres and Sonig Youth Music Industry. It was
funded by the Performing Rights Society for Music Foundation and the Arts
Council of Wales.
The commemorative CD is available at the box office for £10. Call 08000
Vets raise £330 for charity
PETS were given complimentary microchip, flea and worming treatments to raise
hundreds of pounds for Comic Relief.
Budget Vets in Porth and Risca raised £330 for the Red Nose Day cause
by waiving their vets fees in favour of a donation to the appeal.
On March 15 and 16, the practice hosted bake sales and free treatment offers
for 130 dogs and cats.
Peter Heathcote, managing director of Budget Vets, said: "It is a fantastic
feat to raise these funds. I want to thank the hard work and enthusiasm of
our staff and the involvement of so many pet owners.
"We are delighted that our Comic Relief campaigns have helped take care
of local pets, as well as giving to such a valued cause."
Donations can still by made with cash at any of the five Budget Vets branches
or at their Just Giving page at my.rednoseday.com/sponsor/ budgetvets.
Budget Vets provides devoted care to more than 5,000 pets per month at practices
in Risca, Porth, Newport, Blackwood and Abertillery.
Since 2005, the team of 40 vets, nurses and office staff have expanded to
offer nurse clinics, vaccines, weight clinics, specialist kennels, dentistry,
home visits, ultra sounds and x-rays.
Mayor appeal boost
THE mayor's charity appeal has received a £245 cash boost thanks to
two generous residents.
Rhianwen Williams and her niece Anna Gair sold traditional, real Christmas
trees during the last festive season at the Rhondda Heritage Park in her hometown
of Trehafod. All money raised went to the Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Mayor's
Charity Appeal, which is this year supporting Cardiac Risk in the Young, Prostate
Cymru and Cystic Fibrosis.
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