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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 June 2007, 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK
Protests at school closure plans
Protest against school closures
Councillors were left in no doubt about opponents' feelings
Up to 50 parents and governors have protested against plans to close six small schools in Powys.

The proposals came after a council review found there were more than 4,000 surplus primary places in the county, with costs at smaller schools higher.

Councillors voted on Tuesday to start a consultation process with the communities and people affected.

The council will make a final decision on 11 September, with the earliest date for closures in August 2008.

The review, which started in 2006, concluded that the schools - Howey Church in Wales, Llangurig CP School, Llanfihangel Yng Ngwynfa Church in Wales School, Ysgol Gynradd Carno, Ysgol Efyrnwy and Ysgol Thomas Stephens, were not viable.

Plans to close a dozen Powys schools in 2003 were shelved after opposition.

Before Tuesday's meeting, David Jones, the Powys Council board member in charge of schools, said that funding per pupil in a small school was, at about 8,000 per head, 5,000 more than at an average school.

A school
If we close the six schools we will reduce our surplus places by more than 450 and cut expenditure by up to 500,000 - money that can be reinvested in other schools
Councillor David Jones

He also said the figure of 4,000 surplus primary places in Powys was likely to grow by up to 200 a year for the next five years, and that the cost of maintaining these surplus places was more than 4m per year.

This put pressure on the whole system and could not be sustained, added Mr Jones.

"Closing a school is never easy," he said.

"It is a decision that cannot be taken lightly but the council has to act in the best interests of everyone.

"If we close the six schools we will reduce our surplus places by more than 450 and cut expenditure by up to 500,000 - money that can be reinvested in other schools."

But parents and governors are concerned about what the closures could mean for the pupils and their communities.

Parent Keith Breeden, who is among the people fighting to keep open the 16-pupil Llanfihangel Yng Ngwynfa Church in Wales School, near Llanfyllin, said: "It is a terrible thing that anybody could consider closing a school like this.

"It is part and parcel of the local community."

Theresa Morgan-Jones from Carno SOS - set up to try and save Ysgol Gynradd Carno from closure - said parents had already collected more than 1,000 signatures on a petition against the proposals, and a public meeting was attended by 250 people.

Carno SOS were at the council's headquarters in Llandrindod Wells to protest along with campaigners from Ystradgynlais and Llanwyddyn and Llanfihangel Yng Ngwynfa schools, near Llanfyllin.


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"All local people are against it"



SEE ALSO
Schools face new closure threat
19 Jan 06 |  Mid Wales
Councillors back schools review
03 Jan 06 |  Mid Wales
New review for village schools
09 Jun 05 |  Mid Wales
Closure school is 'soft target'
09 Jun 05 |  South West Wales
Village schools face new review
07 Jun 05 |  Mid Wales

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