Uttlesford schools scoop almost �1m in Essex County Council buildings maintenance hand out

SCHOOLS in Uttlesford have been given a massive �800,000 cash bonanza for vital building maintenance works.

Essex County Council announced that it will be investing �8million in 73 schools as part of a county-wide buildings maintenance project.

Much of the funding is to prevent schools from closing in emergency situations, such as failing heating or electrical systems and leaking roofs, and to tick health and safety boxes.

Saffron Walden County High School is one of the major benefactors – it will get �388,500 to replace ageing boilers and underground pipework.

School business manager Hilary Goldsmith said that the cash is a welcome boost to a long-standing problem.

She said: “The pipework and boilers have been in place since the school was built and have gradually decayed – much of it has been due for replacement for several years.

“We are now an academy so technically Essex did not have to give us this money – we are especially delighted to receive it.”

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The cash is about half of what the school needs for a complete refit, meaning that the work will be phased.

“Visually we won’t see any benefits but it will mean that there will be a lot less chance of the school closing because of a burst boiler or pipe in the winter,” added Mrs Goldsmith.

Mountfitchet Maths and Computing College was another recipient of a significant sum – �350,000 towards much needed replacement external windows to the front of the school, admin block and the hall. The school will contribute four per cent to the cost of the work.

Headteacher Catherine Anderson said: “This will benefit us in terms of warmth and reduces some of our costs. It will also provide a better learning environment for both staff and students.”

Elsenham Primary School was given �7,700 for the replacement of a septic tank. Headteacher Linda Reid said: “Although not too exciting, it is vital work and we are always delighted to receive help in keeping the school buildings in great shape.”

Primary schools in Rickling (�3,520 to fix holes in the playground), Henham & Ugley (�11,000 for a flat roof) and Great Dunmow (�82,500 for a pitched roof) were the others in the district to benefit.

It is anticipated that the works will be carried out over the summer holidays to minimise disruption.

The county council’s cabinet member for procurement, property and major projects, Derrick Louis, said: “I am delighted that we are investing such a considerable amount in our school buildings and strengthening the learning environments for our pupils.”

The council has also set aside �1m in its budget for emergency school maintenance work and will be given rapid deployment in emergencies to minimise the risk of school closure.