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Why is the Right to Know Campaign important?

Nothing perhaps illustrates the importance of the Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Campaign better, than what has happened and how the asbestos issues that have arisen have been managed. Understandably parents and those working in the school are confused by the conflicting messages that they are receiving.

The school was closed as the result of Caerphilly Borough Council responding to the report that they had commissioned from Santia. 

Click here to view the Santia report. 

A second report from Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL), on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive, provides a different view.

Click here to view the HSL report.

A third report on behalf of the school has been obtained from Ensafe, which would appear to take a different view again. This is not available to all, although I understand that it will be released upon request to parents of Cwmcarn.

The Caerphilly County Borough Council has commissioned an independent review of all the reports. They comment on their website:-

“With regard to the surveys that have been undertaken to date, it is important to note that there is inconsistency in the methodology used by the asbestos specialists involved in commissioning these reports. This has resulted in differing opinions about the levels of risk at the school. Despite this, the fact remains that there are large quantities of asbestos throughout the school building, including significant amounts of asbestos debris in the ceiling and roof voids as well as the heater cabinets.”

To view the full update please click here

Many Cwmcarn parents and indeed those working at the school, may not have been aware of the presence of asbestos in the school, let alone its extent. The extent of the risk posed by the asbestos is clearly a very contentious issue, as can be seen by the range of opinion from the experts.

What is clear, is that the whole issue has had a considerable impact upon the school community. As a parent myself I would be worried about the effect upon the education of children at the school, particularly those in the crucial 4 years of GCSEs, ASs and A-Levels. How many parents have decided to find alternative schools, with the consequent impact upon jobs for those working at the schools.

Cwmcarn High is not alone in having an asbestos issue. We are told that 85% of Welsh schools contain asbestos. School buildings do not improve as they age but instead require increasing maintenance.  Unforeseen events do affect our schools, such as fire or flooding with the consequent damage allowing for the release of asbestos.

Being open and transparent about the presence of asbestos in our schools is an essential starting point. Setting consistent standards as to the management of asbestos across the board for our schools is surely not too much to ask for. Once the standards are set, then there needs to be a joined up approach to applying them. Leaving hard pressed local authorities to go it alone is not the way forward.

If you agree please sign the petition on the National Assembly of Wales website https://www.assemblywales.org/epetition-list-of-signatories.htm?pet_id=814 

If you would like to become a campaign supporter please contact me at asbestosinschools@righttoknowasbestos.org 

The Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools campaign believes that we as parents or guardians or as those working in schools are entitled to know about the presence and management of asbestos in our schools.

Cenric Clement-Evans
25/02/2013

Save Cwmcarn
25/02/2013

I think everyone appreciates the right to know - and to be fair all schools should have an asbestos management plan - Cwmcarn has and anyone could request to see the register at any point - the same for all schools. The issue with Cwmcarn is far more reaching than just is there asbestos - it's the fact that the HSE and Ensafe both say that it is manageable. As you say 85% of schools in Wales contain it with the potential for it to be released. Most schools are having regular work done to remove it - (as has Cwmcarn) - the difference is and concerns are the nature of a full school closure because of it. If all schools area closed where will put children be educated?

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