County schools hit by £77m maintenance backlog
The condition of schools across Powys has reached an all-time high after the council confirmed a maintenance backlog of £77million.
The figure was described by senior advisers as “surprising”.
The amount needed to restore secondary schools to an adequate level of repair currently stands at £47m, while a further £30m is needed for the primary sector.
The finger of blame is pointed at ‘successive Cabinets’ who, according to Cabinet Member Cllr Pete Roberts, have failed to address the deterioration of schools.
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“It is clear that successive cabinets have not taken the necessary decisions to deal with the deterioration of the county’s school stock, particularly in the secondary sector,” he said.
“Difficult decisions await us to deal with this major problem.”
And council leader James Gibson-Watt agrees.
“This startling figure will pose major challenges for the new administration,” he said.
“This is accelerating the implementation of the transformation strategy that will provide a more sustainable future for all of our schools and communities.”
Meanwhile, cabinet members are holding their breath as they wait for further revelations about other ministerial backlogs.
“The most worrying aspect is that it’s just the backlog of schools,” said cabinet member responsible for finance, Cllr David Thomas.
“Figures on the other service areas are now expected and what the figures confirm is that the Progressive Partnership’s plan to review the council’s current capital program is all the more urgent.”
One of the first actions will be to review key school decisions made by the previous council cabinet.
Earlier this year it was agreed to close Llanfihangel Rhydithon (Dolau) and Llanbedr Primary Schools.
“This decision was made at the end of the previous council, despite opposition not only from students, parents and school staff, but also from some of the affected communities and indeed many council members,” Cllr said. James. Gibson Watt.
“The new Cabinet will revisit these issues as one of its first actions in this process.
“This may delay the process and cause some uncertainty, but we believe the wider implications need to be carefully considered.”