Lancashire plans £10m of school repairs - but it still won't be enough to do everything needed
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The authority’s cabinet approved the so-called “priority 1” projects designed to “prevent immediate closure of premises or address an immediate high risk to the health and safety of occupants”.
The exact amount expected from a government grant to fund the work has not yet been confirmed, but County Hall is expecting it to be worth around £10m based on previous years’ allocations.
However, members were told that a “significant” proportion of the cash will be held back to form a contingency fund for unforeseen urgent work that is yet to be identified, but is likely to emerge during the 12-month period covered by the payment.
Cabinet member for schools, Philippa Williamson, said that the agreed works were “important repairs that need to be done” - but warned that they did not represent the total demand for school maintenance across the county.
“Obviously, because it’s a finite budget, we can’t do everything and we have had to prioritise very carefully. So we will continue that prioritisation process while the work is going on so we are ready for any future funding and condition-led programmes,” County Cllr Williamson added.
Papers presented to cabinet indicated that outstanding repairs would include both priority 1 and priority 2 works.
Some of the cash will also be set aside carry out specialist surveys on those buildings deemed to be a potential safety risk due to their age, the way that they were constructed or their general condition.
The Department for Education provides annual school condition funding to local authorities and, for the past ten years, Lancashire County Council has used it to develop a programme addressing the worst issues that have been identified in the area.
The grant for 2021/22 can be spent over the course two full years, with 40 percent of it expected to be utilised in the current financial year.
The majority of the planned works will take place over holiday periods - including the summer breaks this year and next - in order to minimise disruption to pupils.