Shropshire Star

Crumbling concrete: Shropshire Council facing call to publish assessments on school and public buildings

Calls are being made for Shropshire Council to urgently establish whether any schools or other public buildings in the county could be affected by crumbling concrete.

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Whitchurch Civic Centre

Councillors have told the authority that parents need reassurance over their children's safety, and asked for all assessments to be made public on the council’s website.

Labour group leader Councillor Julia Buckley said the council should also liaise with public sector partners to publish the assessments carried out at all the county’s public buildings, including council offices, hospitals, nurseries and colleges.

It comes as Whitchurch Civic Centre has been closed since last Thursday after the potentially dangerous material was identified throughout the building.

In a motion to be debated by the full council next week, Councillor Buckley said: “The sudden government announcement regarding the risk of collapse due to outdated reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in schools and other public buildings was made just days ahead of the start of the new academic year.

“Classrooms, gyms, corridors, toilets and WCs were closed and parents across the country were unsure whether their schools are safe.

“Although no Shropshire schools were closed, we also do not have any confirmation that none are affected.

“This is because schools are invited to self-assess using a government questionnaire circulated on social media.

“There is no definitive list of public buildings and their assessment results to reassure residents as to which buildings are, and which are not, safe to enter.”

Councillor Buckley said assessments carried out in 2018 when the Government began investigating the issue could now be out of date, with the potential for schools previously deemed safe to have “deteriorated into a dangerous condition” since then.

She said: “Ratings follow a scale from A to D, with D requiring immediate action.

“Those not rated D in 2018 may now be in need of repair, but again this information is not available, until an up-to-date assessment is completed, and results published.

“The public need to know how safe are their schools, courts, prisons, hospitals and job centres.”

“An urgent, full audit is required to find out the extent of this dangerous concrete in the public sector estate, and for us as an authority to have confidence in our own estate, and that of our strategic partners in the county.”

The motion, supported by the Labour group, calls on the council to identify any D-rated buildings and what work they require, as well as those rated C so that preventative maintenance can be planned.

Councillor Buckley added: “As a council we need to be in a position to give a clear and unequivocal guarantee to parents in Shropshire that all schools – including academies, free schools, and nurseries – have been properly assessed and that no children are at risk.”

Liberal Democrat councillor David Vasmer has voiced concern over the issue and asked the authority to publish a list of schools thought to be affected.

In a public question submitted ahead of next week’s meeting, he asks: “What arrangements are the council putting in place to further identify schools which might be at risk?

“Are there any other Shropshire owned buildings that could contain RAAC?”

The motion and Councillor Vasmer’s questions will be discussed at a meeting of the full council on Thursday.

No schools in the Shropshire Council area have yet been identified as containing RAAC.

The council said last week: “We appreciate the concerns that are generated around this matter, given the high-profile national media coverage, but we would like to reassure parents and carers that schools in Shropshire remain safe.”