Councils carry out emergency inspections of school buildings
Nicholas Thomas – Local Democracy Reporter
Caerphilly and Newport councils are carrying out emergency inspections of their school buildings after widespread safety concerns over a type of concrete.
Meanwhile, the health board for the Gwent region is continuing to make “regular inspections” of one of its hospitals after the same material, RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete), was found there.
Public sector organisations are scrambling to check whether RAAC is present on their estates, amid warnings over the safety of the material in some settings.
After news RAAC had been used to build more than 100 schools in England, all 22 of Wales’ local authorities were ordered this week to carry out checks at their schools, as pupils prepare to return to classrooms for the new academic year.
The results of that work are expected within the next two weeks.
RAAC is a lightweight type of concrete used in the construction of schools and other buildings between the 1950s and the 1990s, but a number of recent incidents including the “sudden collapse” of an RAAC panel in a school roof have sparked safety concerns.
A “major” incident was declared at Withybush Hospital, in Pembrokeshire, in August and three wards were shut due to the presence of RAAC.
Following that discovery, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said the same type of concrete had been found in Nevill Hall Hospital, in Abergavenny.
A spokesperson for the health board said today (Monday September 4) that “temporary remedial works” were ongoing while inspectors assessed the extent of the material’s use. Some parts of the hospital – offices, a small section of the restaurant, and the chapel – remained closed.
No ward areas at Nevill Hall are affected, the spokesperson added.
Gwent Police, meanwhile, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service none of the force’s buildings were affected by the presence of RAAC.
Welsh education minister Jeremy Miles said: “Our main concern is the safety of pupils and staff.”
He added: “Since we became aware of these developments, we have been working urgently with local authorities and WLGA (Welsh Local Government Association) to make sure pupils and staff can go back to school safely.”
Newport City Council and Caerphilly County Borough Council did not respond to a request for comment on whether any RAAC had been identified on their respective estates.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.