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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Harrow to inspect every council building for RAAC to reassure residents they are safe

Harrow Council is rolling out a programme to identify any of its buildings that may contain a dangerous type of concrete in order to reassure residents that they are safe.

The council “doesn’t believe” any buildings are affected but have commissioned a series of independent inspections.

Known as reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), the dangerous material was used to construct schools, colleges, and other buildings between the 1950s and 70s in the UK, but has since been found to be at risk of collapse.

Harrow Council leader, Cllr Paul Osborn, advised the Cabinet at a recent meeting (September 14) that, as the main public facing buildings have been built in the last ten to fifteen years, they “would not have any RAAC” but would need to further investigate its corporate owned buildings to provide the same reassurances.

Cllr Osborn said: “We don’t believe any buildings contain RAAC, however, we are rolling out a programme of surveys through the country’s leading independent building surveying practices prioritising buildings according to age and construction type. We expect the first phase to be completed in around six weeks time.”

Last month, the government confirmed that more than 100 school buildings across the country would need to fully or partially close over concerns they could suddenly collapse. Those pupils affected will be forced to shift to online learning or in temporary facilities whilst repair work is carried out.

No schools in Harrow were directly affected by the issue. Cllr Osborn said: “I’m pleased to say that schools in Harrow that are managed by the council have had an uninterrupted start to the school year and are free of RAAC

Labour councillor Stephen Hickman suggested there had been a “lack of investment” in public infrastructure within the borough. He pointed out that Harrow “notoriously missed out” on buildings for schools grants that were “cut by central government”. Cllr Hickman asked the Cabinet what steps they were taking to make sure Harrow “gets its fair share” of any future funds.

Cllr Osborn hit back by suggesting that, if there is any maintenance that had not been done, Harrow Labour should take the blame as it was “in charge for most of the last 20 years”. However, he accepted that there appears not to be any such issues in the borough.

The government has set aside £2.5 billion to be spent on upgrading public sector buildings between 2020 and 2025. Cllr Osborn added: “We will continue to do everything we can to bring in the most amount of money we can for the borough.”

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