School property surveys are slammed by Labour

Calder High School, Mytholmroyd
Calder High School, Mytholmroyd

Labour has slammed the Government’s long-promised property surveys of Calderdale schools as a “total waste of money”, claiming they will damage the chances of winning national funding for buildings such as Todmorden High and Calder High.

The Government’s Review of Education Capital (The James Review) in July 2011 recommended that work started to collate up-to-date information on the building condition of the education estate.

Ministers said the surveys would ensure fair allocation of maintenance funding.

Whatever the result of Government funding, Calderdale Council will still go ahead with their £5 million redevelopment of Todmorden High School after it announced last month work will begin on the 50 years old building next summer.

Mr Stuart Smith, director of children and young people’s services, confirming the money had been put aside, also announced that the council had submitted a bid to the Government asking for additional funding too.

Calderdale Labour education spokesman Coun Megan Swift said of the Government: “Typically, they have paid out millions to private companies, instead of working in co-operation with individual education authorities.

“Frankly, the whole process has been a farce.

“From the results we’ve seen so far, it’s clear that the inquiry seriously underestimates the scale of the problems.

“The surveys contain major factual errors, fail to identify costly problems with heating and electrical systems and miss significant weaknesses in the walls and roofs of Todmorden High and Calder High.

“Five years after former Conservative education secretary Michael Gove described the buildings at Calder High as some of the worst he had seen, we now have a Government-funded survey basically saying that there is nothing wrong with it.

“At Todmorden, the survey has missed problems with damp and drainage, deteriorating roof conditions, and the potential failure of the heating system.

“They’ve even missed a seriously damaged floor because they didn’t look under the vinyl covering.

“This is a massive kick in the teeth for staff and children at these schools and many others elsewhere in Calderdale.

“Anyone who has visited either of these schools knows what a great job the staff are doing despite the poor building conditions.

“We need the council leadership to take strong and immediate action to demand that the Government withdraws this flawed exercise.

“This is a massive problem for Calderdale.

“The Government will use these surveys not just to decide whether we get further money for the two schools but also to set out our allocation for general school maintenance up and down the Borough.”