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Asbestos in Schools

Press release
Meeting Under Secretary of State for Schools
Asbestos in Schools

 

 


POST ELECTION PROGRESS ON ASBESTOS IN SCHOOLS

Asbestos in Schools campaigners yesterday held an important meeting with Lord Hill, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools. At the meeting the Minister agreed to the continuation of the steering group set up in the last Parliament to look at all aspects of risk, management and training for asbestos in schools.

The steering group, which has been on hold since the change in Government, will hold a meeting in the coming months.

Chair of the Asbestos in Schools group, Mid Dorset and North Poole MP, Annette Brooke said: “The result of the meeting today was positive. The new Minister agreed that Department for Education steering group should continue looking into the important issues surrounding asbestos in schools.

Lord Hill was receptive to our concerns, and the group were reassured that he would take account of any additional evidence supplied. He assured the group that the training of headteachers should be taken forward as a priority.”

During the meeting Annette Brooke MP suggested it was important to have a staged programme of implementation to deal with the issue of asbestos in schools, and the Minister was receptive to this.

John Richards from ATAC said: “It was a positive meeting with the concerns of our members being recognised.”

Michael Lees, a dedicated campaigner whose wife contracted mesothelioma as a teacher and died in 2000 said: ““This was a constructive meeting and in working together with the Department for Education and the Health and Safety Executive we must now ensure that practical steps are taken to make our schools safe from the dangers of asbestos.”

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers' union, said  "As asbestos remains a serious concern in our schools the NUT welcomes the Government's intention to continue with the asbestos steering group and to call a further meeting before Christmas. The NUT along with other unions will be able to inform the work of this group on the basis of the outcomes of a questionnaire which we will be putting into schools for the European Health and Safety Week."

Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, the UK’s largest public sector union, said: “UNISON believes the outcome of this meeting was a step in the right direction. There should be no place for asbestos in our schools. Children, staff and parents should have the right to know they are learning in a safe and healthy environment.  With more and more schools being taken out of local authority control, UNISON is deeply concerned that standards of asbestos management – which are already seriously failing - will decline even further”.

Ends

The meeting was attended by Annette Brooke MP, John Richards from Asbestos Training and Consultancy Association, Michael Lees, an asbestos campaigner, Denise Bertuchi from UNISON on behalf of the support staff unions and Christine Blower, General Secretary of NUT on behalf of teaching unions

Kriss Payne
Parliamentary Researcher to Annette Brooke MP
MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole

15 October 2010