The Gloucestershire Lib Dem leader has expressed his shock after it was revealed more than £500,000 has been paid in asbestos-related payouts for exposure in schools.
Freedom of Information request
A total of six former pupils and staff from schools in the area have pursued claims against the council between August 2011 and February 2015, with three claimants settling at a cost of £570,940.16 including costs.
The information was revealed under a Freedom of Information (FOI) request made by Lucie Stephens, whose mother Sue died from mesothelioma – an asbestos-related cancer – that was linked to exposure while working at a school in Buckinghamshire.
Councillor Paul Hodgkinson, Liberal Democrat leader at Gloucestershire Council has called the half a million pound payout “shocking” and is calling for total “transparency and openness”.
Speaking with local news website Gloucestershire Live, he said: “The reason I find it shocking is that this has been going on, compensation has been paid out and this is not something which has been widely known.
“Until I saw the Freedom of Information request I was completely unaware that this is a real problem. If it was not, compensation would not have been paid in such a very large sum. It’s a lot of money which could be spent on other things.”
Campaign for action
There are more than 2,000 asbestos-related lung cancer deaths each year, according to the Health and Safety Executive.
After her 68-year-old mother passed away in 2016, Ms Stephens promised to campaign for action to be taken to protect children and staff from asbestos exposure in schools.
A petition started by Ms Stephens that calls on Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Education to tackle the issue of asbestos in schools has garnered more than 11,000 signatures.
Ms Stephens alleges that 86% of UK schools have asbestos in them.
Mike Green, director of capital at the Education Funding Agency (EFA), says the cost of removing asbestos from all of England’s schools could cost as much as £100 billion, and the only way to eradicate the toxic material is to completely rebuild schools that have asbestos.
Source: Gloucestershire Live
Date Published: April 2, 2017
Author: Jonathan Brown