Page last updated at 15:05 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Referendum 'no' to school plans

Rumney recreation ground
The action group objects to the loss of the recreation ground

People in part of Cardiff have voted against council plans to build new school on a local recreation ground.

In Tuesday's local referendum, 93% voted against the 81m project to build on parkland near Eastern Leisure Centre in Llanrumney. The turnout was 27.6%.

A 1,500-pupil high school building is proposed for the site as part of school reorganisation plans in the city.

The council is not bound by the result and said that it believed its proposal offered the best solution.

In December, councillors voted to close Llanrumney and Rumney high schools as part of a number of planned schemes by Cardiff council to tackle more than 8,000 surplus places in the city's schools, which currently cost more than 3m each year to fund.

The proposals involve building on the Eastern Leisure Centre site, which is on Rumney recreation grounds.

Cardiff Council said the leisure centre would be refurbished as part of the proposals.

It is now likely to be a matter for the assembly's education minister as to whether or not these proposals can proceed
Cardiff council

An artificial pitch and three grass pitches on the Llanrumney school site could be made available for public use under the plans to offset the loss of a pitch at Eastern Leisure Centre, the council said.

A public open space would be created over 12.6 acres (5.1 ha), as part of the development and after the closure of the two schools.

But action group Rumney Recreation Ground Eastern Leisure Centre (RREL) object to the plans.

The vote against the scheme was 3,679, with 251 for. The turnout was 1.3% higher than council elections for the area in 2008.

Polling stations
One of the polling stations for the referendum on Tuesday

The action group said that while they were in favour of the school, they objected to its positioning which would result in the loss of park land.

"The extra public open space the council claim they are offering us is not of the same high quality and it will have to be shared with the school, whilst the remainder lays at the very extremities of the estates," said Don Taylor, chair of RREL.

"The council claim they have earmarked 81m for this project when in fact this sum covers schools reorganisation proposals for the whole of the east side of Cardiff."

Mr Taylor said that "in actual fact the project within the Rumney, Llanrumney, Trowbridge and St Mellons area is less than 40m."

RREL has sent an open letter to Cardiff council leader Rodney Berman demanding the council upholds the outcome of the vote.

A spokesman for Cardiff council said: "Whilst we hear the view that has been expressed through this poll, this does not take away from the analysis that the council's proposal offers the best educational solution.

"The council's decision on the way forward for the new school has already been taken and it is now likely to be a matter for the [Welsh] assembly's education minister as to whether or not these proposals can proceed."

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