Charges after asbestos danger shuts primary

Charges have been brought against Staffordshire County Council after dangerous asbestos fibres were released into a primary school.

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Charges have been brought against Staffordshire County Council after dangerous asbestos fibres were released into a primary school.

The alert, believed to have been sparked when contractors dismantling a cupboard accidentally disturbed the fibres, shut Glenthorne Primary in Cheslyn Hay for four months and cost taxpayers £246,000. Other parts of the building were also affected.

The authority had been due to answer health and safety charges at Cannock Magistrates Court yesterday  but the case was postponed at the last minute.

Staff and some 178 pupils were sent home as a result of the health scare on February 13, 2009.

The school remained closed until June of that year.

Both the county council and Health and Safety Executive launched probes but the Staffordshire authority subsequently became part of the HSE’s investigation.

Charges have also been brought against Rugeley building firm G.Evans (Services), and workmen Franklin Walters, aged 61, of Constable Drive, Littleover, Derby and Christopher Keeling, aged 26, of Stone Road, Stafford.

It is believed the builders, who had been working at the school for four months, disturbed asbestos board which was used as thermal insulation in the building trade between the 1950s and the early 1980s.

Parents were assured that there was only “limited risk” to the children’s health. A helpline was also set up.

Some pupils joined classes at Cheslyn Hay Primary School while others were taken daily by bus to Boney Hay Primary School in Burntwood, more than seven miles away.

A new date for the court case, adjourned because lawyers were not ready to proceed, is to be fixed.

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