Posted: Sat 14th Oct 2023

Devastating Fire at Manorbier School A Year On: Investigation Continues /
This article is old - Published: Saturday, Oct 14th, 2023

The exact cause of the devastating fire at Manorbier school a year ago has yet to be fully established, Pembrokeshire councillors heard yesterday.
Manorbier Church in Wales VC School and its adjoining schoolhouse was severely damaged by a fire on October 11 of last year, which broke out in the school roof space.
Pupils and staff were successfully evacuated with no injuries, and a ‘school from school’ was set up in Jameston Village Hall, after a brief period of sanctuary at the nearby Buttyland caravan site.
Pembrokeshire County Council’s insurers have previously said the fire was accidentally started while ‘hot works’ were being carried out by contractors to renew an adjacent flat roof, but, as has previously been stressed, no liability had been accepted to date.
In a submitted question before the October 12 meeting of the county council, Councillor Aled Thomas asked: “The Leader [Cllr David Simpson] said at the March Cabinet that his Cabinet was ‘pursuing’ the contractor that was allegedly involved with causing fire at Ysgol Manobier in relation to recouping the £200,000 loss to council funds paid in insurance excesses on rebuilding Ysgol Manobier.
“Can the leader update council members and members of the public on how many pounds of this £200,000 have been recouped to date and assure us that they are still pursuing the contractor for the money?”
Cabinet Member for Education and Welsh Language Cllr Guy Woodham said the council had incurred little expenditure to date, and the possibility of pursing the contractor – if at fault – continues to be investigated; external legal advice now being sought.
Members were told the actual cause of the fire had not been determined, Cllr Woodham saying: “The fire service report was unfortunately not specific.”
A related question was submitted by Councillor Phillip Kidney: “Could the Cabinet Member for Education please provide an update on the rebuild of Manorbier School over 12 months on from the devastating fire?”
Cllr Woodham said progress on the rebuilding had been hampered by the complexity of the school and adjoining schoolhouse ownership by the Diocese of St Davids, but the first essential stages in making the building safe, with demolition works starting earlier this month.
He said the first of three phases was now completed, with the site handed over to diocese loss adjusters and contactors for the second phase.
Cllr Kidney said the community was “perhaps looking for a bit of reassurance,” saying September 2024 had been suggested as a date for the school to reopen.
He asked: “Could you give us a realistic date when the children can be back in their rightful place at Manorbier school?”
Cllr Woodham said it was “very difficult to give a concrete answer,” and he was unable to give any assurances about September 2024, but was hopeful that things were moving forward after the works had started, and hoped to provide a clear timeline at a future Cabinet meeting. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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