A MAJOR campaign, endorsed this weekend by the Archbishop of Cardiff, has been launched in Wales to stop Gwent County Council from closing a Catholic school against the wishes of the church authorities. Thousands of signatures are being collected to present to the Welsh Office in support of St Alban's Comprehensive at Pontypool in Gwent.
The county education committee has voted to close the school and to bus the 580 pupils up to 16 miles to schools at
Newport and Merthyr (Catholic Herald, May 25).
The strength of feeling against the proposed closure was demonstrated at the annual Corpus Christi mass at Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday when 8,000 people gave a standing ovation to a 300 strong contingent from St Albans.
Archbishop John Ward of Cardiff described the school as a jewel in the crown of Catholic education. "The school is not just bricks and mortar. It is a living memorial to the faith and sacrifices and hard-won rights of generations before us. The closure of St Alban's would cut at the very roots of what the
Catholic community in South Wales has been and is today."
The County Council has argued that St Alban's is too small to be viable, and that closure will enable surplus places in Catholic schools in Merthyr and Newport to be taken up. The Catholic schools' authorities have answered such objections by suggesting taking places out of the Newport school, but Gwent Council has refused to back down.