Parents threaten legal action in asbestos row

Holy Family Primary School
Holy Family Primary School

Parents are removing their children from a nursery and threatening legal action due to health fears over toxic asbestos.

The asbestos removal work was due to start this week at Holy Family Primary School, which closed last summer because of structural damage.

Primary pupils have been moved into the former Lairdsland Primary School building nearby, but around 100 nursery pupils remain on site.

Education chiefs insist that the asbestos removal can be done safely, with the areas near to the nursery being dealt with during the Easter holidays.

But a number of parents have slammed the timing, saying that NONE of the work should be done while the children are at nursery.

Parents Simon and Stephanie McKerrell are considering taking legal action and this week took their child out of the nursery.

Simon said: “We, and at least three other families, will now be removing our children.

“The response has been entirely procedural and inadequate, and none of the key duty holders have addressed the central issue which is the clear risk to very young children from asbestos removal even within the legal framework for asbestos removal by ‘qualified contractors’.

“There is ample evidence available across the UK of accidental contaminations and health problems in situations where qualified asbestos removal has been undertaken.

“Why on earth can the asbestos removal not be scheduled when the children are on vacation and not on site?”

In a letter to the council he added: “I cannot see how, under any circumstances, that the relatively small financial gains of advancing this work by a couple of months, can in any way justify putting very young children and staff at risk of mesothelioma, asbestosis, other health problems and in many cases death.”

Grace Irvine, the council’s director of neighbourhood services, said: “I understand that parents of nursery children at Holy Family Primary School are concerned about the removal of asbestos from the school building on Boghead Road, but I would like to assure them that these essential works pose no threat to the health and safety of the children or staff members.

“The council is legally responsible for the maintenance of the school site and all materials will be removed in accordance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 by Clarkes Environmental Ltd, the approved contractor undertaking the work.

We have responded to Mr and Mrs McKerrell to address their concerns and reassure them that works will be carried out in accordance with health and safety legislation.”