A SPECIAL school is appealing for help to repair a £20,000 running and cycling track that has been rendered useless within a year.

Staff at Walworth Special School in Newton Aycliffe noticed the track’s all-weather surface had become spongy earlier this year and it was not long before cracks appeared.

Afraid the problem would get worse, Sue Hutchinson, the school premises manager, contacted Easifall, the company that carried out the work, only to discover it had gone bust last July, two months after completing the track.

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Distraught, Mrs Hutchinson contacted the firm that supplied the materials to Easifall which offered to rip out and relay the faulty track at cost price.

However, this will cost about £23,000 and the school, which caters for 72 children with emotional and behavioural problems, cannot afford this.

Mrs Hutchinson said: “I feel very upset and let down to be honest. We paid a lot of money for the track and we just don’t have the budget to pay all that again.

“It has come as a big shock. We have used the firm three times before and never had a problem. ”

The track is located on a school field that, up until recently, could only be used in the summer due to its boggy nature.

To resolve this, the school organised additional drainage to be installed and employed Easifall to lay the all-weather track.

They were advised to use a small road sweeper to clear dead grass and weeds from the track but, due to the movement underneath, the weight of the machine caused the surface to crack.

Headteacher Peter Wallbanks said: “We have been left with something that is unsafe to use and the whole point was to bring this area into use and encourage the pupils to be active. We wanted to offer outdoor PE all year round.

“The track was very popular, especially with the residential children who cycled and ran here on an evening.

“These children are not able to join cycling or running clubs so it is important for us to offer s facilities like this at school.”

Mr Wallbanks is urging any companies or individuals who may be able to help to contact him on 01325-300194.

Mr Wallbanks said: “We just want to raise awareness within the community of what has happened. “We would love to hear from anyone who can offer advice or assistance to help us save this valuable facility.”