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Parents' fear over prison workforce near school.

Byline: marcus hughes Reporter marcus.hughes@walesonline.co.uk

PARENTS have hit out at plans for prisoners to work on a building site right next to a village primary school.

Planning permission for a PS3.4m redevelopment of land adjacent to Llangan Primary School, near Cowbridge, was granted in January.

The 13 energy-efficient homes and commercial units are planned to be manufactured and assembled by prisoners taking part in a rehabilitation scheme.

But concerned parents say they are uncomfortable with how close the apprentice prisoners will be to their children during construction.

The housing association behind the project, Newydd, says only minimumsecurity offenders, with no known drug dependence issues and who are not identified as a risk to children, will be eligible for the programme.

Emily Davies, 36, has two children at the school, with another about to start nursery.

"These houses are being built right next to the school and we weren't aware until more recently that the houses are actually being built by prisoners," Emily said.

"My little one is three and I don't want him in a classroom right next to convicted criminals."

The site is north of Llangan Primary School in the Vale of Glamorgan. The small village school teaches about 100 pupils.

"We support rehabilitation, we think that is fantastic, but just not directly next to a school where they can see through the classroom windows," Emily said.

Newydd Housing Association has embarked on the project in partnership with the Vale of Glamorgan Council, using private and Welsh Government Innovative Housing Programme funding.

Cwrt Canna Ltd has been appointed to develop and manage the adjacent commercial units.

The development will include four one-bedroom apartments, eight two- and three-bedroom houses and a two-bedroom bungalow.

Prisoners will be released on temporary licence to work daily alongside onsite construction teams.

In order to be eligible, developers say prisoners must have to be a Category C or D offender, must not be required to sign the sex offenders' register, must not be identified as a risk to children and must not have any substance abuse issues, among other conditions.

Newydd Housing Association chief executive Paul Roberts said: "The homes will be manufactured and assembled by apprentices from a prisoner rehabilitation scheme run by HM Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS) alongside contractors Cwrt Canna Ltd.

"Public safety is the main priority for HMPPS, Newydd HA and Cwrt Canna Ltd, and HMPPS will carry out comprehensive risk assessments before allowing any individual to work under close supervision outside prison.

"They will gain new skills, knowledge and experience in building the ultra-lowenergy homes, preparing them for the jobs market in a sector where there is a skills shortage.

"We have been in close contact with the adjacent school and have attended governors' meetings to explain our proposals as well as a parents' evening in October 2019. We understand that concerns remain and in response we are preparing a fact sheet to be issued to parents on the return from the half-term break. We hope this further information will resolve any concerns that remain."

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Llangan Primary School, near Cowbridge
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Author:marcus hughes Reporter marcus.hughes@walesonline.co.uk
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 30, 2019
Words:517
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