Redbridge Council to spend £1.5m on necessary upgrades to schools and other public buildings

Redbridge Council will be spending £9million to maintain the upkeep of its vast array of properties, including Ilford Cricket Club, and schools across the borough.

The maintenance will be split between £1.5m works to public and civic buildings, such as the central library and Redbridge Cycling Centre, and £7.5m on 30 primary schools in Redbridge.

The works mostly involve replacing schools’ heating systems, windows, and roofs. The most expensive projects, costed at £500,000 each, will involve replacing the boiler and pipework in Nightingale Primary, the heating system in John Bramston Primary, and removing asbestos from the school.

The £9m required will comprise £1.5m of the council’s funding and £7.5m from school conditioning grants. The latter fund is the bare minimum allocated to councils and not enough to cover every issue, the council says, so it has prioritised buildings most in need of maintenance.

No special schools are included on the list, which prompted concern from councillor Beverley Brewer at an overview and scrutiny committee meeting on May 8.

However, a council officer presenting the report said the schools had not been intentionally excluded as it was based on “priorities of projects” rather than schools. He added: “No special schools being included would indicate they’re in good condition.”

She also questioned the high costs, pointing to the £150,000 replacement of windows at Wells Primary, to which the officer said several factors were being considered. While he could not say for certain, he suggested window types and the construction of the wider building could have an effect.

Away from the schools, the council will look at replacing the roofs of the cycling centre and the cricket club, the upper floor windows of Redbridge Music School, and the mechanical ventilation in the library toilets.

The most expensive repairs will involve upgrading the lifts at Lynton House, which the council has costed at £332,000. The cheapest will be the library upgrades, at £62,000.

Paul Canal, the leader of the Redbridge Conservatives, challenged the council on its intentions to replace the cycling centre roof, arguing it was only twelve years old.

When asked how long roofs last, the council officer told Cllr Canal that “some roofs last a long time, some don’t” before acknowledging it as a “woolly” answer.

The council also confirmed that no RAAC – or, reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete – had been discovered in any of its buildings.

RAAC can pose a structural risk and render a building potentially unsafe when exposed to moisture, according to Government guidance. Scores of public buildings across the UK – including police stations, schools and leisure centres – have been temporarily closed after RAAC was identified.

The officer said there surveys had been carried out where the authority “suspected” RAAC could be.

Redbridge is the largest landlord in the borough, with a portfolio of houses and land valued at around £686m.

The scheme has been recommended for approval at the next meeting of the council cabinet on Monday May 17.

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Sebastian Mann

Local democracy reporter