Flintshire's crumbling school bill hits £40m

Reporter:

Matt Jones

FLINTSHIRE’S crumbling school buildings are set to deteriorate further.

The county’s £40 million backlog of school repairs could increase – that is the stark warning from council bosses as Flintshire Council struggles to get schools fit for purpose with uncertainty over future funding grants from the Welsh Assembly Government.

Tom Davies, the council’s head of development and resources for the lifelong learning department, said: “We are in a very uncertain time with regard to future grants which we have previously relied on for capital works on our schools.”

And according to a report given to councillors during a meeting at County Hall, “much work and capital will be needed to achieve fitness for purpose of all Flintshire schools”.

Mr Davies said: “The capital work that we can do to reduce the repair and maintenance backlog depends very much on grant funding we get in the future.

“We are in a position where we will have to wait until October when the results of the Government’s comprehensive spending review are known.

“What we need to remember is as time goes on the backlog increases on the schools we are not able to work on.”

There has been some improvement with two new special schools, Ysgol Maes Hyfryd and Ysgol Pen Coch, both in Flint, being built to replace dilapidated buildings and work to replace Custom House Lane and Dee Road Infant schools in Connah's Quay

Cllr Chris Bithell, a former executive member for education, said the problems were long-standing and down to cuts at a national level over many years.

He said: “There has been a backlog for years we have been trying to grapple with. It has gone up to something like £40 million and we have been trying to break the back of that.

“The concern is that as time goes on the problems in the old schools are growing if they are not improved. It takes a long time. The need has to be to get schools fit for purpose.”

Cllr Bithell also said it looked likely that Flintshire would be unable to provide funding from its own capital projects funds to counter any cuts at a national level.

Examples of recent work carried out on schools in the county:

- Work on new school to replace Custom House Lane and Dee Road Infants in
Connah's Quay begins in January 2011.
- Ysgol Estyn, Hope – new roof and windows.
- Castell Alun High School, Hope – significant number of new windows and energy conservation measures.
- Elfed High School, Buckley – new flooring, new science lab and prep room.
- St Winifrede's, Holywell – toilet refurbishment.
- St Mary's Catholic Primary School, Flint – school kitchen refurbishment.

See full story in the Leader

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