New temporary classrooms for St Mary's Primary School in Walthamstow which has been affected by aborted relocation plans

First published in News East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter

Temporary classrooms are set to be built at a school after plans to relocate to a new site were aborted when asbestos was discovered.

Staff and pupils at St Mary's Primary School in The Drive, Walthamstow, had been due to move to the former Warwick School for Boys site in Brooke Road, in September 2012, but the plans were put on hold due to concerns about the toxic fibre.

Ever since some pupils have been sent via buses to the former Edinburgh Primary School site instead, while the remaining children have continued their education at The Drive.

Tomorrow (Tuesday January 8) councillors on the council's planning committee will decide on an application by the authority to install four temporary classrooms at The Drive site in two single storey buildings.

Council officers have recommended the plans be approved because they "would not have a significant detrimental impact".

The planning application states that the temporary classrooms would be in place until September 2013 at the latest.

The council's handling of the relocation has been severely criticised, with 200 parents signing a petition saying they had no faith in the authority.

It emerged that a report which warned of the possibility of asbestos at the site may not have been read prior to the start of building works, and that subsequent maintenance to manage the toxic fibre were carried out without the council putting contracts 'out to tender' to ensure best value for taxpayers' money.

Last year campaigner Nick Tiratsoo also called on Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy to demand a public inquiry, but she did not respond to the Guardian's request to comment.

It emerged last November that the council was planning to launch a new investigation into whether any children had been harmed by exposure to asbestos at the site.

Three classes and 18 staff from St Mary's had already moved to Brooke Road in September 2011 ahead of the rest of the school, but the council previously said there was no evidence to suggest their health had been put at risk.

The council still intends on relocating St Mary's to Brooke Road but a date for this is yet to be announced.

The site in The Drive had been due to be taken over by Christian group the Emmanuel School Trust in September 2012.

The group has had to locate its planned free school in Erskine Road, Walthamstow, while it waits for the site at The Drive to become available.

Comments (3)

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7:09pm Mon 7 Jan 13

Helen, Walthamstow says...

This horror story just gets better and better (or worse and worse).

These temporary classrooms cost a fortune, as does bussing children to another school every day. Add that to the costs of removing the asbestos (which should have been identified and removed several years ago), carrying out investigations into what went wrong and then carrying out the work originally planned which will probably now be more complicated because of the gaps where asbestos was, and the final bill for this expansion will be astronomical.

Any bets of whether or not St Mary's will actually be able to move into that site in September?
This horror story just gets better and better (or worse and worse). These temporary classrooms cost a fortune, as does bussing children to another school every day. Add that to the costs of removing the asbestos (which should have been identified and removed several years ago), carrying out investigations into what went wrong and then carrying out the work originally planned which will probably now be more complicated because of the gaps where asbestos was, and the final bill for this expansion will be astronomical. Any bets of whether or not St Mary's will actually be able to move into that site in September? Helen, Walthamstow
  • Score: 0

9:37pm Mon 7 Jan 13

NT says...

Too right Helen.

And don't forget, it also may be necessary to factor in an HSE fine (LBWF seems to be a bit short in the documents department for this site), and the cost of any legal action by those who either were, or may well have been, exposed during the construction works.
Too right Helen. And don't forget, it also may be necessary to factor in an HSE fine (LBWF seems to be a bit short in the documents department for this site), and the cost of any legal action by those who either were, or may well have been, exposed during the construction works. NT
  • Score: 0

1:21pm Tue 8 Jan 13

Techno3 says...

"Last year campaigner Nick Tiratsoo also called on Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy to demand a public inquiry, but she did not respond to the Guardian's request to comment."

Nor did she demand the public inquiry. One has to wonder why not? Does our MP not think children's safety or the safety of contractors working on public buildings is important any more?

Or is she concerned of what a proper inquiry into our Labour-controlled council might unearth? Unless she speaks up, she can't be surprised if people draw thier own conclusions. The parents of St Mary's school have already exposed some really rather odd procurement arrangements at the council and the avoidance of the minimal financial protections for taxpayers, as well as a fair bit of fudging and incompetence at the Labour-run council.
"Last year campaigner Nick Tiratsoo also called on Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy to demand a public inquiry, but she did not respond to the Guardian's request to comment." Nor did she demand the public inquiry. One has to wonder why not? Does our MP not think children's safety or the safety of contractors working on public buildings is important any more? Or is she concerned of what a proper inquiry into our Labour-controlled council might unearth? Unless she speaks up, she can't be surprised if people draw thier own conclusions. The parents of St Mary's school have already exposed some really rather odd procurement arrangements at the council and the avoidance of the minimal financial protections for taxpayers, as well as a fair bit of fudging and incompetence at the Labour-run council. Techno3
  • Score: 0

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