Labour promises sprinklers for new school buildings in £14bn improvement package

CREDIT: This story was first seen in the Mirror

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner committed to using the £14bn to strip dangerous flammable cladding from the school estate, reports.

Labour will make sure all new schools are fitted with sprinklers as part of a £14bn package to improve buildings.

The news comes after it was revealed that just one in three new builds are fitted with the life-saving equipment.

Writing exclusively in today’s Sunday People, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner unveiled the new pledge and committed to using the £14bn to strip dangerous, flammable cladding from the school estate.

The pledge is part of a package of proposed safety measures, including closing the loopholes that allowed developers to get away with not installing such safety precautions in the first place.

It comes after safety concerns were raised in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster in West London, which left 71 people dead last summer.

Shadow secretary Angela Rayner said: “We will put money aside to make sure schools are safe. To remove asbestos and flammable cladding and fit top drawer sprinklers.

“Parents want a lot of things for their kids. But above all they want them to be safe. Nothing is more important than that.”

Fresh concerns arose recently when it was announced that a school is being rebuilt without a sprinkler system, even though it was almost destroyed by a fire two years ago.

The government has repeatedly failed to give assurances they would provide additional funding to remove flammable cladding from existing school buildings when necessary, despite findings last summer that there are multiple school buildings with flammable cladding.

Concerns have previously been raised that the government is neglecting the existing school estate, using money on the free schools programme, instead of the 7800 buildings in the school estate that are over a century old.

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Labour’s £14bn pledge is based on calculations made by the National Audit Office.

The NAO found: “It would cost an estimated £6.7bn to return all school buildings to satisfactory or better condition. Common defects include problems with electrics and external walls, windows and doors.

“The Department’s property data survey estimated that in total it would cost £6.7bn to return all schools to satisfactory or better condition and a further £7.1bn to bring parts of school buildings from satisfactory to good condition.”

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