ASBESTOS removal and increased construction costs at two Monmouthshire schools has led to overspends of around £1 million.

The demolition of old buildings at Caldicot School and Monmouth Comprehensive was expected to cost an extra £350,000 in September.

But a report reveals “major” overspends that have seen costs rise to £738,612 at Caldicot and £346,230 at Monmouth.

Monmouthshire County Council say they were anticipating asbestos given that some of the buildings across the two sites date are more than 60 years old.

The new Caldicot School

But the cost of the Caldicot project has continued to mount with the discovery of asbestos in previously inaccessible areas, such as under concrete slabs.

A council spokesman said the asbestos removal accounts for around £465,000 of the overspend, with the remainder relating to costs towards project management consultants.

READ MORE: £350k asbestos removal at two Monmouthshire schools a 'minor overspend', meeting hears

Additional construction costs have been blamed for the Monmouth scheme going over budget, though the council say they are unable to give an itemised breakdown for the figure.

Pupils walk around the new Monmouth Comprehensive School, which opened in September 2018

Caldicot councillor Tony Easson, one of the councillors told about the initial overspend in September, said: “I wasn’t expecting the first overspend, so I definitely wasn’t expecting it to rise again.

“Logic says to me if a building built in the 1950s is being knocked down then you have to expect asbestos in all parts of the site.”

Cllr Tony Easson

Cllr Easson described the new-build as “wonderful” but claims Caldicot has been “short-changed” given the new building has no gym, despite the old school site having two, and reports of safety concerns at the school.

READ MORE£36.5m Caldicot school opens its doors

The Labour councillor also believes Monmouth was prioritised over Caldicot and benefited from greater funding – a claim disputed by Councillor Richard John, cabinet member for children and young people.

“There is no truth whatsoever in Cllr Easson’s suggestion that facilities have been compromised in Caldicot to allow development in Monmouth,” said the Conservative councillor.

Cllr Richard John, cabinet member for children and young people

When the overspend of £350,000 was presented to councillors last year, it was described as “very minor” given the redevelopment of both schools cost more than £90 million.

Both projects were jointly funded by the council and the Welsh Government under the 21st Century Schools scheme.

The report will be discussed by the economy and development select committee on Thursday, January 10.