Anger at council's handling of Cwmcarn asbestos affair
9:59am Thursday 21st February 2013 in News
PARENTS of Cwmcarn High School pupils told of their anger at Caerphilly council because of the way it is dealing with by the asbestos issue at the school.
Their anger comes in the wake of yesterday’s news that a third report into asbestos at the school has recommended part of the building be reopened to students.
Parent Rhiannon Price said: “I think the majority of parents feel angry with the way the council is dealing with it and feel that the council is not being open, honest and transparent.”
The Argus recently reported how parents and pupils will hold a day of action outside Cwmcarn High School, with some claiming its future is being put in jeopardy by Caerphilly council “dragging its feet”.
They will march from the village on February 25 in protest at the way the situation has developed since asbestos was discovered.
The latest twist in the tale comes four months after the school was closed amid health concerns that there is an “elevated risk” of asbestos.
Since then more than 900 pupils have been bussed to the former Coleg Gwent campus in Ebbw Vale, a 22-mile round trip and a cost of around £1.4 million to taxpayers for the rest of the school year.
This latest report issued by independent asbestos surveyor Ensafe, contracted by the school’s leadership, recommends the appointment of a licensed asbestos contractor to seal off the main parts of the two-storey A block of the school – but other areas of the school could be returned to normal use.
However, when the Argus contacted Caerphilly council yesterday for a comment on this latest revelation, we were referred to a statement released last week that said the authority has commissioned an unnamed independent expert to give an impartial view on all the previous reports to help the council make decisions.
As yet, no details on how long that will take have been released.
The saga has already angered parents who have hit out at the way the council has dealt with the issue.
The Ensafe report states the decision by the council to close the school was “understandable” but was not supported by any airborne fibre testing sample results.
But Ensafe says that if this risk does exist, it is not clear the risk is so high it warrants the closure of the whole site as these areas are confined to specific rooms in the A block.
Their recommendation is to seal off the main parts of the A block from the rest of the school while further surveys and site investigations are conducted in the sealed areas of the school if necessary.
The report adds that while “there is compelling evidence to indicate that it would not be unreasonable and perfectly safe to re-open the entire school”, this precautionary approach is recommended.
Cwmcarn High School was closed in October after a report said there is an “elevated risk” posed by asbestos in the school structure but the Health and Safety Executive subsequently said the risk is lower than first thought.
The council is now providing funding to the school for a new management survey, which will include an options appraisal for the future of the site.
The council has also employed an unnamed independent expert who will now give an impartial view of all the reports to help the council make decisions.