Socialist Worker

The Troublemaker—Thousands of primary schools at risk as asbestos crisis looms

Issue No. 2661

Asbestos is banned but is still in buildings

Asbestos is banned but is still in buildings (Pic: Bruce Perez/

Children and workers in over 5,000 state-run primary schools across England are at risk from asbestos.

Some 105 English local education authority areas responded to Freedom of Information requests made by Stephensons Solicitors LLP .

The responses showed that asbestos, which causes cancer, was present in 69 percent of sites in the areas.

But the real scale of asbestos in schools will be far bigger.

Some 47 areas, containing 3,791 state primaries, failed to provide data.

And academies and free schools weren’t included as they don’t have to report to authorities on asbestos.

Some 319 teachers have died from mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, since 1980 according to the NEU union.

The Department for Education called on schools in England to report on how much asbestos they had in their buildings by 31 May last year. But in January nearly a quarter—23 percent—had still failed to do so.

Asbestos was used in buildings from the 1940s until the 1970s, before being banned in 1999. It is also present in some housing blocks and hospitals.

  • A school is so poor after Tory funding cuts that it has appealed to parents for donations.

The headteacher at Middlewich High School in Cheshire, Heidi Thurland, asked parents to donate £30.

In a letter sent to parents she said, “If funding continues in the current format there are very difficult

decisions ahead on the curriculum we offer and how we resource it.”

Analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies last month said £3.8 billion would be needed to reverse 8 percent cuts in per pupil spending.

It said a further £1.1 billion would be needed each year up until 2023 to maintain spending in real terms, taking into account rising costs.

Bankers make loads from Southern Water

Fat cat investors at scandal-hit Southern Water have pocketed nearly £120 million in a year.

The company dished out £673 million to shareholders in the past five years. And 11 directors were paid more than £8 million, research by the GMB union found.

Southern is owned by a consortium of City investors, including major banks, which took out £119 million in dividends in its latest financial year.

Last week Southern Water was hit with a £126 million bill for dumping sewage in rivers and the sea and falsifying records.

  • The Metropolitan Police bill for handling 11 days of Extinction Rebellion (XR) protests in April was £16 million.

Almost half the cash, £7.3 million, went on overtime for cops.

And just to show capitalism is flexible, a large amount of XR branded tat has appeared for sale on Ebay. The plastic decal car sticker is perhaps a step too far.

  • Ex-work and pensions minister Esther McVey grabbed £16,876 when she quit the cabinet—after making benefit claimants poorer. McVey resigned over Theresa May’s Brexit deal last November.

She’d “earned” the equivalent of £67,505 a year after being a minister for ten months—on top of her MP’s salary. McVey admitted that Tory benefit changes would make some claimants “worse off”.

  • The Tories have thrown nearly £200,000 of our money fighting Universal Credit benefit claimants in court. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) fought three cases. One cost £91,529, another cost £52,446 and the third £39,871.

The DWP lost all three—but is spending more cash to appeal.

Royals awash with lots of our money

Made of gleaming copper and taking 120 person hours to be hand beaten out, this (pictured) is the designer bath Meghan and Harry have had installed in Frogmore Cottage.

The bath is produced by luxury firm William Holland.

It will have cost up to £5,000 to produce.

More than £7 million of our money has been spent on renovating and refurbishing homes for Princes William and Harry over the past seven years.

In the past five years, the Royal household has carried out some 47 big projects, from conservation and water infrastructure at Windsor Castle to St James’s Palace refurbishment.

The most expensive project in the last financial year, costing £2.4 million, has been the secretive works at Frogmore Cottage.

The project isn’t finished so the bill could approach £3 million.

Lawrence cop cleared

A former detective was cleared by a cop watchdog of trying to sabotage Stephen Lawrence’s murder investigation.

John Davidson has repeatedly faced claims he had an improper relationship with the gangster father of one of Stephen’s killers.

He has been cleared by the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

It had been claimed he had admitted a “corrupt connection” to David Norris’s gangland father Clifford.

David Norris was convicted of Stephen’s murder in 2012 alongside Gary Dobson.

Meanwhile Detective Superintendent Ian Crampton and Detective Chief Superintendent William Ilsley, who supervised him, were questioned last week week over claims they committed misconduct in public office.

Two other officers involved in the first investigation—Detective Superintendent Brian Weeden and Detective Inspector Ben Bullock—are due to be questioned.

Ex-cop for Israel spooks

Ex-Met Police Commissioner Lord Bernard Hogan-Howe, is supporting an Israeli firm’s bid to introduce technology capable of tracking anyone carrying a mobile phone to within a metre.

Lord Hogan-Howe has joined makers Carbyne, which claims its system will only pinpoint the position of criminals and accident victims.

Lord Hogan-Howe declared his role on the company’s advisory board in the register of Lords members’ interests as an unpaid position.

But he has been granted share options.

The Things They Say

‘Rally against racism’

An unlikely appeal from the Daily Mail newspaper—it was calling for Jeremy Corbyn to tackle “rabid antisemitism” in Labour

‘Everyone prefers their own race’

Singer Morrissey in an interview last week

‘If borders are such terrible things then why did they exist?’

Morrissey’s bizarre logic

‘Politics is much, much worse than any of you can imagine’

Failed Tory leadership hopeful Rory Stewart isn’t bitter

‘It is genuinely a terrible thing’

Stewart continues

‘For The Record.’

The catchy title of David Cameron’s forthcoming memoirs

‘I am not going to the fucking White House’

US footballer Megan Rapinoe

‘Every crime must have its punishment. The liberal idea has become obsolete’

Vladimir Putin says the growth of populism is a backlash against immigration

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