£1 million cost of Flash Ley School toxic gas closure
Flash Ley School was closed in October and is yet to reopen after 20 pupils became ill.
Staffordshire County Council has racked up the whopping bill since on paying for alternative arrangements for pupils who attended the Hawksmoor Road school, transport, removal of the toxic formaldehyde and venting the buildings.
The authority has vowed to recoup the full cost of £1,113,159.14 but stated it could not comment further on potential legal action at this stage.
The formaldehyde was released as a result of works that took place last summer to fill ducts in the floors throughout the school to provide additional support.
Rugeley-based firm G Evans Services was appointed as the principal contractor for the job, while Benefil was subcontracted to provide and install the infill product.
Jonathan Gough, managing director at G Evans, said: “The company has been the framework building contractor to Staffordshire County Council for over 20 years.
“We were appointed as the principal contractor to administer the re-flooring works at the school.“However, we had no influence in the design or nomination of the specialist contractor appointed. Nor are we involved in the remedial works.
“Like everyone else we were shocked and concerned as to the high levels of formaldehyde discovered last October.“We sincerely hope the children and staff are able to return as soon as possible.
”Benefil issued a statement which said: “Benefil provided and installed the product at Flash Ley School over the summer of 2015, as subcontracted by Entrust, on behalf of Staffordshire County Council.
“Staffordshire County Council responded quickly to the maintenance issues and we, Benefil, have been cooperating fully with the investigation with all involved parties over the remedial works over the past months. The investigation continues.
“Our primary concern has been for the safety of the children and all the school staff.
“All parties are focused on the remedial works and the reopening of the school. Any legal matters between the parties will be dealt with if and when they arise.” In recent weeks the council confirmed that Flash Ley would not reopen for the new school year stating the levels of formaldehyde were still ‘too high’.
A new opening date has not been set with the authority stating it would take ‘several weeks’ longer.
Works still to be completed include refilling in the ducts and redecorating the school, although the £1.1m cost has accounted for that and is not set to increase.
A council spokeswoman said: “We will seek to recover all costs incurred by the temporary closure of the school, the work to remove the original product and the remedial work that has to be undertaken before the school building can reopen. We are using different companies to carry out the remedial work on the school building.
“Our primary concern remains to return pupils and teachers back into their school as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Learning and skills chief Councillor Ben Adams added: “The process for removing the residual formaldehyde in the building is working but this is taking longer than expected.
“I know many parents will be disappointed with this news, but one thing we won’t do is compromise on the safety of children and staff.
“We have to be satisfied that there is no risk to staff or pupils.“It is clear that the remedial works won’t be complete by the time the school year starts and we wanted to give parents and staff as much notice as possible.
“We will continue to work closely with the school to support children’s education.
“We share the frustration of the whole community at the time it is taking to return to Flash Ley, but the safety of children and staff has to be, and will remain, our primary concern.”
For the time-being pupils will continue to be taught at Chetwynd Centre, Tillington Manor Primary and Stafford Manor High.