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Sussex schools' repairs bill nears £100m
Sussex is facing an almost £100 million repairs bill to bring schools up to standard.
Brighton and Hove City Council estimates its total repair bill now stands at £33 million – a rise of 14% since 2009, figures obtained by The Argus reveal.
East Sussex County Council revealed that its repair bill for its highest priority repairs stood at £15 million and that it would take two years just to deal with these cases.
The news comes just days after The Argus revealed that some children returning to schools in the county this week would be having lessons in temporary classes dating back to 1974.
Council officials said that their attempts to tackle the maintenance backlog were being hampered by cuts in Government funding.
Brighton and Hove City Council said that the current bill for the most urgent repairs stood at £840,000 – for repairs deemed a high health and safety risk or which pose a serious breach of legislation.
When urgent repairs are needed we address them as a matter of urgencySue Shanks, Brighton and Hove City Council children and young people committee chairwoman
The most recent five-yearly survey carried out by Brighton and Hove City Council revealed that the city’s schools have a £1.8 million bill for urgent repairs.
A further £12.7 million of work was identified as essential to be carried out within two years.
Lower priority repairs will cost a further £19 million.
The council was granted more than £4 million for school building maintenance by central Government this year and the council made a further £1 million available.
West Sussex County Council said it could not supply a figure for the total repair bill but said it had spent £21.5 million on 237 schools in the last four years.
Twenty schools had been identified as having defects that were at a serious risk of imminent failure or an urgent nature between 2007 and 2011, with repairs costing £159,000.
In East Sussex £7.3 million was spent by the county council and schools in the last financial year to maintain school buildings.
Brighton and Hove city councillor Sue Shanks, chairwoman of the children and young people committee, said: “When urgent repairs are needed we address them as a matter of urgency.
"We spend millions of pounds every year improving the fabric of our school buildings.”
A West Sussex County Council spokesman said: “Safety in schools is given the highest priority.
“Defects with a high health and safety risk or which could seriously breach legislation are dealt with as soon as they become apparent.”
A spokesman for East Sussex County Council said: “We have put additional resources into school maintenance over recent years, which has helped to tackle schemes on our maintenance priority list.
“We will continue to work with headteachers and senior school staff with the aim of ensuring that all essential repairs are carried out and that children can learn in a safe school environment.”