United Kingdom

School concrete live: Fears asbestos could be exposed in buildings


Expert explains why Raac is more dangerous than standard concrete

The scandal over schools built with crumbling concrete escalated overnight amid fears that asbestos could be exposed in some of the sites affected.

Asbestos and reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) often exist in the same building and at least 80 per cent of schools have asbestos present, according to The Sunday Times.

“Asbestos in schools presents a significant complicating factor in remediating issues relating to RAAC. Asbestos, once disturbed, is a serious hazard,” John Wallace, managing director of Ridgemont, a specialist estate law firm in London, told the paper.

Concerns about RAAC were raised years ago and a whistleblower, a former civil servant in the Department for Education, has accused ministers of being “dangerously complacent” on school safety.

“It just wasn’t a priority for the Spads [special advisers] or politicians,” the source told The Observer. “There is a good case for being cautious and prudent but the general environment of not funding things and trying to make do – that is where we are after 13 years [of Conservative government].”

1693728434

Hunt unable to confirm schools will get extra money to cover cost of rents

Jeremy Hunt was unable to confirm that schools having to rent out buildings to house pupils over concerns about RAAC would get extra money to cover the cost.

“We will make sure that they [headteachers] can keep their children safe,” he told Sky News.

Matt Mathers3 September 2023 09:07

1693728147

Hunt: ‘Wrong’ to suggest we did nothing to protect schools

Jeremy Hunt has said it is “wrong” to suggest that the government has done nothing to protect schools from crumbling concrete.

The government has known since 1994 that some public sector buildings contain potentially compromised RAAC and has been monitoring their condition since 2018, following the collapse of school roof buildings.

More than 100 schools were forced to shut on Thursday evening – days before the start of the new term.

“Well I think that it is just wrong,” Mr Hunt said when it was put to him that the government “didn’t really do anything” when concerns were raised about the issue.

“The building schools for the future programme was changed and it was changed in order to reduce the cost of building more schools…so that we could spend more money on repairs to the schools in the estate.”

(PA)

Matt Mathers3 September 2023 09:02

1693727284

Hunt pushes back on suggestions government doesn’t know how many public buildings affected

Jeremy Hunt has pushed back on suggestions that the government doesn’t know how many public buildings are affected by RAAC.

It was put to the chancellor that the government was unable to say how many schools, hospitals and courts contained the unsafe material.

He said: “I don’t think that’s a fair characterisation…of what’s been happening.

“I’m telling you that what the government has been doing is an exhaustive programme of contacting every school to try and identify where the risk is and acting immediately when we find the information.”

Matt Mathers3 September 2023 08:48

1693726857

Hunt: We’ll prioritise spending money to fix RAAC issue

The government will “prioritise” spending money to fix schools affected by RAAC, Jeremy Hunt has said.

The chancellor told Sky News: “We’re absolutely committed to doing what it takes to make sure our schools are safe”.

Mr Hunt also said Gillian Keegan, the education secretary, had taken immediate action when the scandal came to public attention again on Thursday.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt has asked the financial regulator to investigate (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

(PA Wire)

Matt Mathers3 September 2023 08:40

1693726292

7,000 schools could be affected by RAAC – report

Up to 7,000 more schools could be affected by crumbling concrete, it has been reported.

Structural engineers will be dispatched to inspect hundreds of schools built between the 1950s and 1990s, which may have used reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in their construction, The Sunday People reports.

As of May, the most recent figures available, less than half of the 14,700 schools at risk had responded to a DfE survey asking heads to report if their buildings could contain RAAC, the paper added.

More than 100 schools, nurseries and colleges in England have been told by the Government to close classrooms and other buildings that contain an aerated concrete that is prone to collapse (Jacob King/PA)

(PA Wire)

Matt Mathers3 September 2023 08:31

1693725492

Recap: What is RAAC?

But what is aerated concrete, and why is it such a risk?

Alexander Butler reports:

Matt Mathers3 September 2023 08:18

1693724330

Labour plots vote to force ministers to reveal list of schools with crumbling concrete

As MPs return to the House of Commons on Monday after the summer holidays, the opposition will try to make political hay out of the fiasco by putting forward a humble address – an arcane parliamentary mechanism sometimes used to demand papers from government departments – to force the publication of a full list.

Matt Mathers3 September 2023 07:58

1693723724

‘Dangerously complacent’

Ministers have been accused of being “dangerously complacent” over the risk from crumbling concrete in schools.

“It just wasn’t a priority for the Spads [special advisers] or politicians,” a whistleblower told The Observer.

“There is a good case for being cautious and prudent but the general environment of not funding things and trying to make do – that is where we are after 13 years [of Conservative government],” the source, a former civil servant in the department for education, added.

(Getty Images)

Matt Mathers3 September 2023 07:48

1693723310

Fears asbestos could be exposed in crumbling schools

Asbestos could be exposed in schools affected by crumbling concrete, experts have warned.

“Asbestos in schools presents a significant complicating factor in remediating issues relating to RAAC,” John Wallace, managing director of Ridgemont, a specialist construction and real estate law firm in London, said.

“Asbestos, once disturbed, is a serious hazard,” he added.

The Government is facing calls to publish a list of schools affected by a lightweight concrete prone to collapse (Jacob King/PA)

(PA Wire)

Matt Mathers3 September 2023 07:41

1693723022

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the schools concrete scandal.

The government has identified more than 100 schools forced to close or partially shut– plunging the new school term into chaos – because their buildings contain reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) – a lightweight material used in schools, colleges and other public buildings in the 1950s until the mid-1990s.

Government ministers and opposition MPs will be discussing the issue this morning. Stayed tuned for all the latest updates.

Matt Mathers3 September 2023 07:37

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button