Thursday, September 7, 2023

147 schools are at risk owing to deteriorating concrete, and the UK government is accused of "cutting corners"


The British government was accused of "cutting corners" when it published a list on Wednesday of 147 English schools that could collapse due to crumbling concrete.

According to the list provided by the Department for Education, which is in charge of overseeing schools in England, 19 schools have been forced to postpone the start of the new academic year as a result of the actual crisis. Students at 24 other schools will receive some form of remote learning, with four of those schools switching to fully remote learning over the weekend. Over the coming days or weeks, additional educational establishments might be added to the list.

During a raucous first Prime Minister's Questions session following the summer break, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer compared the government to "cowboy builders," a common British term for builders who are careless and unreliable.

He stated, "The truth is that this crisis is the unavoidable consequence of 13 years of cutting corners, bungled projects, and sticking-plaster politics." It's the kind of thing you'd expect from cowboy builders to say: "Everyone else is wrong, everyone else is to blame, and they've done an awfully good job even though the ceiling is falling in."

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak insisted that the government has acted "decisively" and that the "vast, vast majority" of schools are not affected by the problem, despite the Conservative Party trailing Labour in opinion polls ahead of an expected general election next year.

More than 100 English schools were ordered to close some or all of their buildings last week, days before the start of the new school year, due to the presence of a lightweight, air-filled concrete that was widely used in construction from the 1950s to the 1990s. Schools in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, as well as other parts of the United Kingdom, have also been affected.

The material, which is called reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete, or RAAC, is lighter, cheaper, and has a shorter useful life than standard reinforced concrete.

After the government issued a last-minute directive after three schools thought to be safe collapsed over the summer, school administrators have been scrambling to find classroom space in nearby establishments or have turned to online instruction.

To the resistance, disintegrating schools are an illustration for the condition of a country they guarantee has become "Broken England" because of public-area cost-cutting during 13 years of Moderate rule.

RAAC was utilized outside of schools as well. Aerated concrete was also used to construct hospitals, courts, and other public buildings, often for their roofs.

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