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Crumbling North-East school not "most urgent" for repairs
REBUILDING work at a crumbling North-East school will only be brought forward if “money falls out of the air”, an education minister warned.
David Laws, a Liberal Democrat, said Hetton Secondary School, in Houghton le Spring, must wait for cash because it is not among the “most urgent” cases.
As a result, the school – where broken heaters leave pupils shivering, asbestos-laden tiles move in the wind and drainpipes fall off – will not be rebuilt until 2016, at the earliest.
The Northern Echo reported the appalling state of Hetton School on Monday, prompting Mr Laws to be quizzed about the controversy on BBC Radio 4’s flagship Today programme.
Work is also held up at up to 14 other schools – including Seaham School of Technology, in County Durham – after a private finance initiative (PFI) deal hit trouble.
They were promised help, from a £2.4bn “priority” scheme, after many saw their dreams dashed when the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme was axed in 2010.
The department for education (Dfe) declined to provide grants for rebuilding – despite including all the schools on a list of the 261 most dilapidated – and insisted on PFI.
Yesterday (Tuesday, March 12), Mr Laws defended that decision, saying grants were going only to schools “where there is most urgent need to do maintenance work and to replace most of the buildings”.
Asked why he didn’t “get on with it” at Hetton School, he replied: “If more money fell out of the air then of course we would.
“We have to have the plans for private finance approved in government and I am expecting that to happen very soon.”
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