Campaigners want all asbestos removed from Leeds schools

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Asbestos campaigners have called on Leeds City Council to undertake a large-scale asbestos removal programme at its schools to help protect children and teachers.

It is thought that as many as 190 schools in Leeds still have asbestos containing materials and although the Council has implemented a thorough asbestos management strategy, including training for headteachers, some campaigners want to see the substance removed completely.

Kimberley Stubbs, daughter of the late June Hancock and patron of The June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund, described the figures as “chilling” and said that as a parent she expected schools to be a “safe environment” for children.

She told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “Schools are uniquely subject to lots of disturbance including inquisitive children, pins in walls, kicking of doors and walls.

“They also tend to require regular maintenance which again can disturb asbestos and release the dust into classrooms. There is no safe asbestos.”

At least 140 teachers have died from mesothelioma in the UK over the past ten years after being exposed to asbestos in schools and Tim Hale of the Leeds branch of the National Union of Teachers said it was time for the issue to be addressed.

“We would like to see a policy of progressive removal in schools,” said Mr Hale. “Schools are not really safe places for asbestos because they are so many users in schools.”

Leeds City Council stressed that it took the issue of asbestos safety very seriously, but said that when correctly managed and left undisturbed, the substance should not be a cause for alarm.

It added that it has a comprehensive asbestos management plan in place for schools in Leeds, which includes surveys and a record of where asbestos is present to ensure contractors working on site are aware of it and take the appropriate safety measures.

For more information about asbestos surveys for schools and other public buildings or to discuss asbestos removal by a licensed contractor, please contact BLS Asbestos.

Published: 20th October 2014