CONTROVERSIAL plans to merge two faith schools and keep them operating on separate sites have been scrapped.
Denbighshire Council Cabinet members unanimously voted in favour of developing a single new faith school in the north of the county, replacing St Brigid’s, Denbigh, and Blessed Edward Jones, Rhyl.
The plans act as a revised approach to the second phase of proposals for a single faith school in the county, rather than continuing with phase one, which was to amalgamate the two schools, which are based 12 miles apart, into a new school under the same headteacher.
Mohammed Mehmet, chief executive of Denbighshire Council, said: “What we have is two of the poorest schools in the county.
“The capital expenditure to bring them up to date would be prohibitive.
"They would remain small schools and I couldn’t justify that on the basis of demographics and finances.”
Councillor Eryl Williams, cabinet lead member for education, said: "Throughout this process, the council has maintained that it is not viable to keep things as they are.
"We, along with our co promoters in the Church in Wales and Catholic Diocese, re-affirm that our vision is to see one, state of the art faith school to serve the communities of Denbighshire and provide for families who wish to see their children educated within a faith-based setting."
More than 1200 people responded to the original merger proposals on the two site option, which saw parents, teachers and residents voice concerns over the location of the new school and operating as a single school over two sites prior to any agreement to a new school.
The next phase of the consultation will focus on the age range and the location of the school, which could now open in September 2018 - one year earlier than planned.
Cllr Margaret McCarroll spoke positively about the outcome of the meeting.
She said: “It is important parents have the choice to chose faith base education. I am very pleased that it may be built one year ahead of plans and we are more confident that it will be built in Rhyl. We have identified four or five potential sites for the new build.
“We have still got an amount to do, but it seems that we all have the same objectives; to give children a chance and move the town forward. We have always supported parental choice.”
Cllr Brian Blakeley, a member a the Have Faith in Rhyl group, added: “99% of the kids come from the area. The feeling is, that if the school isn’t built in the area, then parents that haven’t got a great deal of money, will struggle with transport costs and their children may have to go to Rhyl High - despite the parent’s wanting to have faith based education.
“The meeting was positive and there was a brilliant turn out. I will continue to work with my constituents over faith based education for people in Rhyl.
“I feel strongly about the issue and we, as in councillors, will support the build which will hopefully be in Rhyl.”