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New school will be built on poison tip; ASSEMBLY INSISTS SITE CONTAMINATED BY ARSENIC AND CYANIDE IS SAFE.

Byline: Eryl Crump

CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a school on a former tip were given the final go-ahead by the Welsh Assembly yesterday.

Ministers approved a plan to move Llandudno's Ysgol John Bright on to the town's former Maesdu Road tip - despite objections from concerned parents.

Part of the site used to house a gasworks and is contaminated with poisons including arsenic and cyanide.

Assembly approval came just 24 hours after Conwy council gave the go-ahead to build the school.

It will be constructed under an pounds 84m Private Finance Initiative (PFI), which will also provide new and refurbished buildings at Ysgol Dyffryn Conwy, Llanrwst, and Ysgol Aberconwy, Conwy.

The current Ysgol John Bright site was sold off to build a new Asda superstore.

Announcing the go-ahead during the Assembly's North Wales Regional Committee meeting at Amlwch yesterday, Rhodri Morgan said a number of safeguards were being put in place to ensure the site's safety.

But the First Minister said the Assembly still wanted assurances from Conwy County Council that the waste tip site would be sufficiently cleaned up to make it safe for school children.

He told AMs Finance Minister Edwina Hart had approved the council's full business case for the PFI project and that Environment Minister Sue Essex saw no reason to revoke the planning permission.

Mr Morgan said: ``The whole of the Assembly Cabinet is aware of the strength of feeling among parents in Llandudno over the proposals to relocate the school to this particular site.

``I can assure those campaigners that the most careful and expert consideration has been given to this matter.''

Ysgol John Bright will be built on a site that includes an old council depot, a waste tip and a former gas works.

The buildings will take up 10pc of the land and will be constructed on the former contract services depot.

A car park will be built on the old gasworks and the playing field will lie on the old tip.

Mr Morgan said three issues needed to be addressed by the local authority, particularly involving the clean up and preparation of the site.

``Concerns remain about the level of remediation which is required at the site,'' he said.

He said an assurance was needed that the necessary independent technical expertise would be applied and that mechanisms would be put in place to provide independent confirmation the standards had been achieved.

``We are concerned that there has been insufficient collaboration between the local authority and health officers,'' Mr Morgan added.

``Thirdly, action needs to taken to rebuild public confidence in the steps taken to ensure public safety.''

Conwy council leader Ronnie Hughes was delighted by the announcement. He said: ``This is tremendous news for the three schools involved.''

But the decision angered parents, who commissioned an independent report by engineering consultants Parsons Brinckheroff.

The report recommended the scheme should ``not be allowed to proceed in its current form''.

Lesley McCarthy, of campaign group Don't Put Our Children On The Tip, branded the decision ``disappointing''. She called on the council to restart the process of find a new site for Ysgol John Bright.

Construction work on the new schools could start next month with completion early in 2004.

Mr. P. A. Moore and Miss. C. M. Burden. The engagement is announced between Son of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Moore, of Littleton, Cheshire and

CAPTION(S):

PROTEST: The tip on which the new Ysgol John Bright will be built
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 2, 2002
Words:575
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