A well-attended meeting to discuss the proposed new Welsh-medium school in Gwersyllt threw up some interesting arguments during a sometimes heated debate.
More than a 100 people were present to hear Wrecsam council officers John Davies and Dafydd Ifans outline the proposals for a new 210-pupil school on Delamere Avenue in Gwersyllt by September 2013. The school will meet existing demand, which is currently met by doubling the size of Ysgol Plas Coch in Rhosddu. This is not a sustainable situation given the traffic congestion being caused and the fact that concerts and other events have to take place off campus due to the size of the school.
The new school has won £4.2 million in funding from the Welsh Government and will substantially reduce the amount of pupils having to travel from Gwersyllt, Summerhill, Llay and Bradley to schools in Wrecsam town.
Despite this, there was a rearguard action by a few diehard opponents of the school tonight. Among the contradictory and slightly sad arguments against were:
• Will it lower the price of adjacent housing? (er, no)
• Will the sound of children playing be screened by trees? (yes, if you really dislike children that much)
• The site is waterlogged (the scheme will deal with this)
• The site is used by locals (and will still be - the school's facilities will be open to the local community)
• The traffic is terrible on Delamere Avenue and this will make it worse (not if the speed limit is cut to 20mph and traffic calming installed)
• English-medium schools in the area also struggle to hold assembly in their halls due to large numbers (so let's have keep it that way for everyone)
• Why not add Welsh-medium streams to the existing schools? (what, despite being full?)
None of the objectors said explicitly that they were against Welsh-medium education but the undercurrent was clear in some of the questions. Several plainly didn't understand the need for a new school and failed to grasp that there are already 170+ children from the local area attending Welsh-medium schools in other parts of the county. Many ill-tempered interventions, not least by the over-excitable headteacher of the local CP school and one of his governors, failed to understand that that this scheme is not a threat to existing local schools but rather to fulfil existing demand.
The many parents present who currently have to drive or bus their children across town to Bodhyfryd were clear of the benefits of a local school - the reduction in traffic should be substantial as a result. They and the officers kept to the point admirably.