Schools get asbestos check

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Hundreds of schools are riddled with potentially dangerous asbestos - but County Hall chiefs say staff and pupils have nothing to worry about.

Lancashire is one of only a minority of areas which has its own specialist asbestos squad which regularly checks for problems.

An all Party Parliamentary Group on “Asbestos in Schools – the need for action” has called for a six-point action plan to safeguard children and staff.

It calls on the Government to set a programme for the phased removal of asbestos from all schools.

It already has the backing of the GMB which has a large membership in schools.

Latest figures show that all identified “high risk” incidents of asbestos in Lancashire’s schools have been dealt with.

However, there are currently around 500 schools with at least one identified “low incidence” case.

These include 81 in Preston, 53 in South Ribble and 60 in Chorley.

Mike Hart, Lancashire County Council’s director for resources and planning for children and young people, said: “Where asbestos occurs in the county’s schools, it is inspected regularly and does not represent any threat to staff, children or young people.”

He said most buildings constructed before the year 2,000 had some asbestos in them and, as long as it is in good condition, well sealed and not disturbed, it is safer to leave it alone.

If schools are undergoing building work or renovation which may affect existing asbestos, then a careful survey is done and, if necessary, its removal is carried out by a specialist firm.

Amanda Gregory, headteacher at Harris Primary School in Wychnor, Fulwood, Preston, said: “We had some asbestos removed from the roof of our boiler room when we had a new heating system installed and an extra classroom built for our juniors a couple of years ago.

“The whole thing was done extremely efficiently.”