Monmouthshire County Council’s new administration last year postponed a review of primary school catchments to autumn 2023, but at Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting the seven Labour councillors and one Green decided to proceed to a consultation on changes affecting Tredunnock, Llanhennock and Llandegveth near Llangybi but put the Mitchel Troy proposal on hold indefinitely.

Councillors Richard John and Jayne McKenna had called for a consultation due to the unfairness of the current catchment areas, which effectively split the village of Mitchel Troy in two because the closest school for half the community is Trellech Primary and for the other half it’s Overmonnow, which means some families qualify for free transport to Trellech and other families don’t.

Both Mitchel Troy and Cwmcarvan are in the catchment are for Overmonnow Primary, but the local councillors have expressed concerns that the current catchment doesn’t reflect community ties, as only two of the 30 primary age pupils in the villages attend Overmonnow, with the majority attending Trellech.

Council officers had already published a consultation document including details of a public drop-in event at Trellech Primary, which had a date of TBC and details of how residents could share their views.

In the cabinet meeting, the cabinet member with responsibility for education, Martyn Groucutt explained that the councillors would proceed to a consultation on expanding Usk Primary’s catchment area to include areas of Monmouthshire to the south of Llangybi but that they would not support a consultation in Mitchel Troy and Cwmcarvan because if the results recommended changes, it would result in increased transport costs for the council.

Cllr Richard John said, “I’m disappointed that this catchment review has been kicked into the long grass because the current catchment areas just don’t reflect what actually happens on the ground, which is that eight times as many pupils go to Trellech Primary as go to Overmonnow. The current catchment areas effectively split our community in two with some families having to pay transport costs while it’s free for others.

“We know very well that these are challenging times financially but it’s important that access to school is fair. I hope the Cabinet will stick to their promise to bring these proposals back at a future date and consult the public on these out of date proposals.”

Cllr Jayne McKenna said, “It makes no sense for the council to spend time drawing up a consultation document for residents in Mitchel Troy and Cwmcarvan and then to shelve it because they think residents will recommend that the status quo be changed. It would have made more sense to proceed with the consultation, get a clear evidence base as to what residents want and then the cabinet could have made an informed decision about what was in the communities’ best interests, mindful of financial constraints.

“We will continue to listen to residents’ views on this and advocate for a thorough review of school catchment areas.”