MP REBECCA Pow MP is being accused of a "concrete cover-up" after voting against a Liberal Democrat amendment proposing a register of schools and hospitals in Somerset affected by RAAC.

The Lib Dem amendment to the Levelling Up Bill would have forced the Government to publish a full register of schools and hospitals across the country which are in a state of serious disrepair including schools and hospitals affected by aero-concrete (RAAC) and asbestos.

This amendment would require the Government to keep a register of schools and hospitals in serious disrepair and ensure the register is regularly updated.

Conservative MPs, including Rebecca Pow, voted against the amendment tabled on July 5, 2023.

Somerset County Gazette: Taunton Deane MP Rebecca PowTaunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow (Image: Rebecca Pow)

MP Pow said the "level of scaremongering and political banner waving is beneath even the worst that the local Lib Dems have offered in the past”.

Gideon Amos, the Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate for Taunton and Wellington, said: “It’s shameful that the local MP and this Conservative Government has once again chosen to cover up information from their constituents rather than be transparent.

“Their refusal to be honest and their continued efforts to hide this information is shocking; in Somerset, we have a right to know if our schools and hospitals are liable to collapse or be filled with toxic asbestos.

“If the Conservatives’ MP here won’t fight for adequate funding to repair our schools and hospitals, the least they can do is tell constituents which buildings are affected.

“This is just another example of taking people in Somerset and their votes for granted and playing them for fools.”

The list would have to be published within one month of the bill's passing and regularly updated on a three-month basis with up-to-date information.

MP Pow said: “The Lib Dems and their woefully inaccurate account of complicated matters is going to be a drain on all our patience over the next year.

“It is already the case that the Government publishes data on the hospitals and education settings with confirmed RAAC.

“Safety is this Government’s absolute top priority, which is why immediate funding has been made available for urgent remediation works at all hospitals and education settings affected by RAAC.

“The Conservative Government continues to invest in the long-term future of our public infrastructure, including £1.8 billion for the school estate in 2023-24, and over £20 billion by 2030 through the New Hospital Programme.

“The Govt has been entirely transparent in relation to schools with confirmed RAAC. "Lists of settings with RAAC were published on September 6, September 19, and most recently last Thursday.

“As of 16 October, there are 214 education settings with confirmed RAAC in parts of one or more of their buildings.

“This list can be broken down by Parliamentary constituency, which will show that there are seven in the South-West.

“All schools where RAAC is confirmed will be provided with funding for the emergency mitigation work needed to make buildings safe including alternative classroom space, and longer-term refurbishment or rebuilding projects to rectify RAAC.

“I recently visited Selworthy Special School in Taunton with Education Minister Baroness Barran MBE.

Somerset County Gazette: Rebecca Pow during her visit at the schoolRebecca Pow during her visit at the school (Image: Rebecca Pow MP)

“The purpose of the visit was to get a full understanding of the impact of RAAC on school life, see the safety measures they have put in place, and speak personally with executive headteacher Mark Ruffett and Ian Robinson - chief executive officer, The Oak Partnership Trust.

“Following my first visit to the school I realised the full impact that RAAC is having on the staff and students and immediately contacted the Department for Education to stress the seriousness of the situation.

“I was pleased that the Department responded promptly and that I was able to visit again, accompanied by the Minister so that she could see, first hand, the impact this is having on the school.

“It's all credit to the Selworthy staff that they have adapted quickly to the situation so that the school can remain open.

“Together with a dedicated Department for Education Team, a future solution will be proposed following detailed surveying which is underway.

“I will report back on the next steps as soon as I am able and will be working with the school and the DfE to ensure suitable solutions.

“The comments made by the Lib Dems suggesting that schools and hospitals may suddenly fall down in the Southwest are both inflammatory, dangerous, and very unprofessional.

“This level of scaremongering and political banner waving is beneath even the worst that the local Lib Dems have offered in the past.”

In August, a RAAC crisis forced schools to close days before returning from their summer break.