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Protesters' fears over Welsh school shake-up talks.

Byline: Rachael Misstear West Wales Editor

WELSH.LANGUAGE campaigners have raised concerns after Pembrokeshire Council announced plans to consult afresh on the reorganisation of Welsh-medium education in the middle and north west of the county.

Proposals include significant changes to secondary schools in Fishguard and St Davids and the development of a new Welshmedium school.

In January Pembrokeshire Council agreed to a recommendation, following a consultation, to open a Welsh secondary school in Haverfordwest.

It had consulted over the closure of both Thomas Picton (STP) and Tasker Milward schools in Haverfordwest, and the creation of a single school on the STP site, with sixth-form provision to be provided at Pembrokeshire College. A new Welsh-medium school for three- to 16-year-olds was planned for the Tasker Milward site.

The plans proved hugely controversial, with several protests being staged outside County Hall, particularly about the lack of choice over sixth-form provision.

But yesterday the council agreed to a report that recommends holding an extra consultation on three separate issues: Welsh-medium provision; provision in Haverfordwest; and provision in the Fishguard and St Davids areas.

Kevin Knox, a local member of Cymdeithas yr Iaith and a longstanding campaigner for a Welshmedium secondary school in the area, said: "The consultation earlier this year showed that 96% of respondents are willing to have a Welsh-medium secondary school here in Haverfordwest, so why do we need yet another consultation? "People have been waiting for years, if not decades, for a Welsh secondary school in the south of the county, at last there was a promise of a school by 2019, but this raises more uncertainty and delay.

"People do not want more talks and consultation and form-filling - they just want a school they or their children can go to."

Bethan Williams, Dyfed organiser for Cymdeithas yr Iaith, said: "There is no definite site for a Welsh-medium school in Haverfordwest now and it would be much better to spend time on finding a site for the school instead of holding another consultation.

"Too many children in the county have lost out on Welsh education or have had to travel long distances for Welsh-medium education as it is."

In the report to members, the director for children and schools, Kate Evan-Hughes, said: "Since the July 16 meeting offers to meet the Trustees of the Tasker Milward and Picton Charity have not resulted in a meeting.

"In order to progress the development of education provision for pupils in north, west and south Pembrokeshire, a fundamental part of the strategy to improve standards, it is proposed to postpone the element relating to Haverfordwest to enable further discussion in pursuit of a mutually agreeable solution that meets the case for change and the imperative to improve standards."

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 11, 2015
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