Sheffield Council launches investigation into RAAC on city buildings
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Councillor Ian Auckland tabled urgent questions on the matter in a full council meeting on September 6 following concerns raised about reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in schools.
It is a cheaper alternative to standard concrete but its short lifespan means it is liable to collapse in some cases.
The issue has hit headlines in recent weeks after an RAAC panel failed at a school in England that would have been classed as ‘non-critical’.
Education secretary Gillian Keegan said the incident led her to take action, just days before the new school year was due to begin.
Responding to Coun Auckland’s questions about RAAC across Sheffield, council leader Tom Hunt said the authority was reviewing its data for buildings constructed in the second half of the last century.
He said it would inspect properties within that period and identify any that might have RAAC.
“Our inspections will follow government advice and guidance to ensure thorough assessments are undertaken,” he said. “We will take appropriate action to mitigate the risks if found.”
He said comprehensive surveys were regularly conducted on main buildings but RAAC was not being looked for. This has now been included in the council’s programme.
Investigative work on RAAC across the city will have five phases. Work is already underway on a desktop study looking at information already held. The council will then look for RAAC in any building where it thinks it might be present. Building surveyors will then be appointed to risk assess the RAAC if it is found. Remedial work will then be conducted and there will be continued monitoring of RAAC if it is found.
A cross council group of officers was established to ensure speedy action but Coun Hunt said: “Our estate is large and this is going to take some time.”
He added: “We should all be furious about the conditions children in this city and across the country are in. We should be furious about the fact our schools have been chronically underfunded to the point where they are now at risk of collapse. We will do all we can to make sure the estate is safe.”
Coun Dawn Dale, chair of the education and children committee, said Abbey Lane Primary, in Woodseats, was the only school in the city known to be affected and the RAAC is being replaced.