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Devon MP demands school rebuild urgency

Thursday, 19 January 2023 06:00

By local democracy reporter, Ollie Heptinstall @OliHepy

Richard Foord MP Tiverton and Honiton (Image: Philip Churm. LDR)

Get on with it!

A Devon MP has urged to government to get on with rebuilding two flood-risk schools after bad weather in recent days.

Heavy rainfall saw several Devon schools hit by flooding. Both Tiverton High and Tipton St John schools, which before Christmas were added to the government’s school rebuilding programme, are on flood plains.

Flooding at Tiverton High last week reportedly closed off its rear entrance and 50 per cent of a playground, while Tipton St John Primary has also been hit by flooding in recent years.

It has led Tiverton & Honiton’s MP to ask when the proposed new schools will be built. It has yet to be confirmed when rebuilding work will begin, with 239 schools recently added to the list of 400 now provisionally chosen across the country.

Richard Foord MP (Liberal Democrat), who triumphed in a by-election last year in which the poor state of Tiverton High was one of the main talking points, said: “Tiverton High and Tipton St John Primary are recognised as being unfit because they are built on flood plains at increased risk from heavy rainfall.

“The government has provisionally placed both schools on the list of 239 schools to be rebuilt over the next five years but has not confirmed when this vital work will commence.

“This is simply not good enough,” he said. “We’ve already waited years to see progress on rebuilding Tiverton High School; we cannot afford to wait another decade whilst our children’s education is continually disrupted by flooding.

“That is why I am calling for the Department for Education (DfE) to stop stalling and get to work on breaking ground so we can get the new, safer and modern school buildings that our communities deserve.”

In response, the DfE says schools provisionally selected for the rebuilding programme will be prioritised according to the condition of their buildings and other relevant criteria. Works will only then be scheduled once due diligence checks are completed.

They added work will start at a rate of roughly 50 schools per year over the next five years, with work on the first schools expected to start this April.

The DfE says it will be in touch with schools this month to explain the next steps.

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