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Row over Sully’s £2 million set to fund special school in Penarth expanding

 

A row has broken out over £2 million set to fund a Vale of Glamorgan special school expanding, as that money was meant to be for Sully.

Ysgol y Deri, a special educational needs school, is planning on expanding with a new building with space for 150 pupils on land near Cosmeston Country Park.

While the Welsh Government is paying for most of the expansion, the Vale of Glamorgan council will put up £2.5 million towards it — including £2 million of Section 106 money from the Cog Road development, where hundreds of houses are planned near Sully.

Section 106 money, paid by developers, is supposed to fund the extra pressure placed on local public services like doctors’ surgeries and schools.

Councillor Bob Penrose, representing Sully, said that £2 million should stay in the village and be spent on replacing Sully Primary School, instead of going towards Ysgol y Deri.

He said: “The action proposed by the education department flies in the face of the democratic process, both for residents and local councillors. I find this situation totally unacceptable.

“I’m not opposed to the concept of a satellite facility for Ysgol y Deri, and I appreciate the sterling work done by the school. The objection is purely against the acquisition of £2 million from Sully’s Section 106 money.”

During a meeting of the full Vale council on Monday, December 7, Cllr Penrose proposed a motion to spend the Section 106 money on Sully Primary School instead of Ysgol y Deri. Opinion was split in the council: 18 councillors voted for and 21 against, with six abstaining.

Supporting the motion, Cllr George Carroll, representing Llandough, said: “The role of Section 106 money is to compensate communities and existing residents for the impacts that developments may have on the area, particularly on public services.

“This isn’t just an issue for Sully, even though that’s the community that’s being discussed. The same could end up happening to other communities across the Vale.

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“I want to see investment in Ysgol y Deri — it’s important that happens — but I think the source of the money should be found elsewhere in the education budget to provide it.

“It’s absolutely right we make sure that Section 106 money is spent on the communities rather than for county-wide projects.”

The Vale council has not yet formally decided on expanding Ysgol y Deri, nor on whether to use the £2 million to go towards the expansion. Sully Primary School is set for a new building in the next band of school replacements, so will see investment in a few years time.

Cllr Lis Burnett, deputy leader and cabinet member for education, said the motion was “premature” and Sully Primary School currently has enough space for children in the local catchment area.

She added the new Ysgol y Deri building is actually in the ward of Sully — although it will take pupils from across the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff, too.

She said: “Sully Primary School currently has sufficient capacity for reception intake from the catchment area, including those from the development, until at least 2025. Currently a third of pupils from the school are outside of the catchment area.

“I’m at a loss as to why children with special needs are being singled out as not being worthy of funding. What does that say to any child or young person with special needs in Sully?”

But the primary school does suffer with space, Cllr Penrose said, with a school hall not big enough to fit all of its pupils and a lack of enough toilets for both children and staff.

The Vale council is currently consulting the public on the proposals to expand Ysgol y Deri, before applying for planning permission for the new building.

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