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Saturday, December 9, 2023

RAAC found on estate of second Leeds school

Crumbling concrete has been found on the estate of a second Leeds school, local councillors have been told.

Reinforced autoclave aerated concrete (Raac) has been discovered at Shadwell Primary School, in the north-east of the city, a full council meeting on Wednesday heard.

The LDRS was later told that Raac is not present in any part of the main school building, but has been found in a caretaker’s bungalow on the site’s grounds. Parents are understood to have been informed and teaching is continuing on the site.

Last week, the government confirmed the concrete was also present in a small section of Woodkirk Academy in Tingley, where classroom teaching is also continuing.

Leeds City Council’s deputy leader called on Rishi Sunak to resign as Prime Minister if he was found to have ignored warnings children’s lives were at risk.

Jonathan Pryor (c) Mark Bickerdike Photography

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, who is also the authority’s executive member for education, said: “So far Raac has been found in two school buildings across Leeds.

“One in the Morley South ward and one in the Harewood ward. In both cases they are in a secondary buildings and not in the main school building.

“One is an academy and with the other the government is yet to confirm whether they will be covering the cost of those repairs.”

Labour and Tory councillors clashed over the wider issue of Raac, which has been found in more than 100 schools across England and is deemed a major safety risk, during a fiery debate.

Councillor Pryor said he had raised the poor state of school buildings in Leeds with the Department of Education (DfE) “time and time again”.

He later added: “The DfE and Rishi Sunak now need to release exactly what advice they were given when they chose to cut school building funding.

“If it transpires that Sunak was given that there was a risk to children and he still cut it, then he’s not fit to be Prime Minister and he should resign.”

Cllr Eleanor Thomson

Cllr Pryor’s Labour colleague Eleanor Thomson accused the government of “arrogance” and said the scandal was a “national disgrace”.

But Conservative councillors accused Labour of failing to tackle the problem when the party was in government.

Tory group leader Alan Lamb admitted the government had not “covered themselves in glory”, but claimed it still owed £22bn in debt and interest from New Labour’s school building programme.

He said: “Labour did build lots of schools. They cost a lot of money they mortgaged everyone’s futures to pay for them.

“People are lecturing on how this has been dealt with by this government. Have they covered themselves in glory? No, I would accept it’s not been ideal by any stretch of the imagination.

“But the last Labour government failed every school, every teacher, every child. They left them with this debt and burden. So don’t lecture us on what we’ve done. Get your own house in order first.”

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