10:53am Friday 3rd January 2014 in Letters
NOON on Monday, January 6 is the consultation deadline for people to submit their views on Pembrokeshire County Council’s proposal to merge Hakin Community School with Hubberston Voluntary Controlled School.
The council’s intention is to provide a new purpose-built building to house a singleall through English medium Church in Wales Voluntary Controlled primary school.
As the councillors representing Hakin and Hubberston wards, we have grave concerns over the process that has led to this decision now presented to consultees for a response next week.
In June, during the informal consultation, Hubberston parents were unanimously opposed to any proposed merger. However, they were given a categorical assurance that, if they opposed the merger, their opposition would not jeopardise the building of a muchneeded new school for Hakin Community School to replace the unsatisfactory split site that currently exists. They had the comfort of this assurance for six months until just a few weeks ago.
The proposal is to site the new school on a vacant part of the Observatory sports field, alongside Gellyswick Road. We have repeatedly stressed to the officers concerned the important part these two clubs play in providing sporting opportunities for the young people of Hakin and Hubberston and, indeed, Milford Haven generally, and that any disruption to their activities should be kept to the absolute minimum.
As a result, during September we met separately with representatives of Milford Haven RUFC and Hakin United FC and the scheme’s architects and project managers in order that the clubs’ concerns could be made known to the design team.
At the first of these meetings with MHRFC, the architects told us that their brief was to draw up two designs - one for a school to accommodate Hakin Community School and a second larger school for both Hakin Community School and Hubberston VC School. The following week, during our meeting with Hakin United AFC, we were informed that the brief had been changed and they were now instructed to design a single school.
Unbeknown to the two communities, or us as their elected representatives, in September, PCC had submitted a business case to the Welsh Government to provide a single school, despite the overwhelming opposition of Hubberston parents as voiced in June and July.
During the recent December consultation meetings, it was a bombshell to those attending to be given the ultimatum that should their opposition to the amalgamation be so strong, the project will be dropped, with the result that plans for a new building for Hakin Community School would have to go back to the drawing board.
They were warned that this will delay the new Hakin school by a least one year, if not two.
We are also concerned that, if the super-school goes ahead, the proposed site will not be large enough to accommodate a 500 plus pupil unit.
We feel that the council has manoeuvred those of our constituents who are against this proposed merger into the invidious position where their opposition could lead to a long delay in the provision of a much needed new building for Hakin Community School.
All we wish to see is a meaningful consultation process where the voice of our constituents is heard and given due weight.
From what has transpired so far, we have little confidence that our wish will be fulfilled.
Pembrokeshire County Councillor
Pembrokeshire County Councillor