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No local schools at risk of closure

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According to the report which went before the Resource Management Working Group earlier this month £3.39m of its 19.38m maintenence works list relates to ‘priority 1’ work in schools.
The report states priority 1 is “urgent works that will prevent immediate closure of premises and/or address an immediate high risk to the health and safety of the occupants and/or remedy a serious breach of legislation.”
However when questioned over the figures a spokeswoman for the council, Peta Stoddard-Crompton, said: “There are no West Berkshire schools at risk of closure.
“The council has invested around £2m in the capital maintenance programme year on year to ensure that the programme remains robust, however, the work must be done on a limited budget which is ever decreasing.
“Health and safety is the top priority and the council works closely with schools to cover essential works and to maximise both the schools and the council’s available capital.”
The shadow executive member for education, Alan Macro (Lib Dem, Theale), called on the council to explain which schools needed work and to put resources into clearing any dangerous works.
“When they talk about budgets that is capital rather than revenue, so it is not quite the same. If necessary they can borrow to fix,” he said.
“They really ought to clear the priority one backlog instead of the priority three, which I believe they are still working on. By their own definition these are serious works which need immediate attention.
“They should also say which schools are in need of work so we can see for ourselves, rather than rely on this data which doesn’t tell us very much.”
The backlog is based on condition survey data which is updated on a five-year rolling programme.
Owing to the cancellation of two consecutive meetings the issue, which was first broached in July, was shelved.
The group said it would request a representative of the council to explain the numbers as no-one from the property department was present at the meeting.

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