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Residents baffled by call to give school listed status

By Jonny Drury | Welshpool | Education | Published:

Residents and councillors have spoken of the "baffling" move to throw a spanner in the works of a £13 million school development.

Ysgol Maesydre in Welshpool. Photo: Google StreetView.

It was discovered earlier this week that an unknown person had asked Cadw, which looks after historical buildings in Wales, to put listed building status on Ysgol Maesydre in Welshpool.

If it was to be granted, it would throw the development into serious doubt.

The development will involve a Welsh Medium School and an English Medium School being built in the town, to replace a number of primary schools.

However the application to Cadw has raised a serious question mark over any development.

County Councillor Graham Breeze says the town has been left stunned by the news and says it could hit the Powys ratepayers in the pocket.

He said: "It is quite a shock as the school is being developed with Welsh Government cash.

"Quite frankly I'm gobsmacked that anyone should come forward with such a suggestion, particularly at such a late stage in the planning. Why should the building be listed?

"It might well have some historic link to an obscure architect or even have some fond memories for someone of what happened in the bike sheds, but that hardly warrants the preservation of a building which hasn't been fit for educational purposes for a decade.

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"Even this week governors and staff were battling with a leaking roof in a bid to keep pupils in school.

"The scheme, which offers Welshpool two new state-of-the-art primary schools, will provide fantastic education opportunities for the youngsters of the town and surrounding area and now Powys Council will be forced to fight any Cadw recommendations to protect those opportunities."

Mr Breeze said it would be possible to retain the old building, but it would come at a big cost.

He added: "Of course, it would be possible to build the new school and retain the ugly and crumbling old building on the site, reducing the size of the new facilities.

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"But where will the funding come from to maintain the former school - and what for?

"One Plaid Cymru county councillor has described the move as a 'cynical attempt to disrupt a major investment, and a total waste of money' - perhaps he knows a bit more than he saying so far.

"And if he's proved to be right, someone is going to have a lot on their conscience if the new school programme is delayed and the funding vanishes. And the ratepayer will be picking up the bill."

Jonny Drury

By Jonny Drury
@JonnyDrury_Star

Senior reporter covering Oswestry and Mid Wales.

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