The Council will this week consider an update report on the financial proposals behind the plans to create through schools in the Rhondda and Tonyrefail. The controversial plans involve the removal of sixth forms from three schools and the creation of age 3 to 16 and 3 to 18 schools.
On numerous occasions during the consultation on these proposals, which were of course widely condemned by stakeholders and opposition members, there were objections with regard to the cost which appeared to be based on vague ideas rather than solid plans.
As pointed out by objectors, the Council's Strategic Outline Case which was approved by Welsh Government and which was obtained under an FOI request stated that
'The major constraint is managing the expectations within the capital funding limit of £75 million, given that the costs of construction and associated infrastructure can vary considerably over the life of the Project.'
RCT Welsh Liberal Democrat Campaign Manager Karen Roberts has been at the forefront of the campaign against the plans. She says
"The report to Council states that estimated costs have now gone up by £5 million since firmer plans have been developed and they are now looking at a total cost of around £80 million. Half of that will come from the Welsh government, the other half will be borrowed by the Council.
"Work has not even started yet and we are already looking at a 7% increase in estimated costs. How much more can we expect these project costs to escalate? Experience has shown that the final bill in such projects is always some way above the original budget.
"In the current financial climate borrowing this amount of money for a project that nobody except the Director and the administration want, which will make guinea pigs out of the pupils in the Rhondda and create huge inequality of provision across the county is nonsense. This money can be better spent."