Backlog of £3m in school maintenance in district

DOLORES Kelly has slammed the Education Minister, John O’Dowd, after it was revealled that there is a backlog of over £3million in schools maintenance in the district.

After receiving figures through a written Assembly question to the Sinn Fein minister the SDLP MLA hit out at Mr O’Dowd, claiming that this came at a time while, she said, the local construction industry is on its knees.

Banbridge Academy has a backlog to the tune of £946,324 - the vast majority of this relates to items that were not addressed by recent capital works involving a new build extension and refurbishment at the school.

Other figures include: Abercorn Primary School, £491,318.00; Banbridge High School, £55,435; St Patrick’s College, £465,766; and Edenderry Primary School, £204,601.

In a statement released to the Leader she said, “Over the past few years there has been a great demand for jobs, particularly within the construction industry. This constituency relies heavily on the construction industry.

“There are a number of small businesses which have closed within this constituency and took with it many jobs from the area. I’m not saying that this maintenance work would have saved every construction job in the area but they certainly would have gone a long way to prolonging jobs and helping to garner some hope for the local economy.”

In concluding Mrs Kelly said, “Whilst the minister is pressing ahead with school reports that fail to take into account demographics and whilst the transfer issue shows no sign of an outcome, the minister is allowing schools in Upper Bann to deteriorate. Many of these schools will continue to suffer after the sustainable school reports.

“Six schools within this constituency have a maintenance backlog of over one million pounds. Think of what that would have done not only for our local schools, to be housed in buildings fit for purpose, where students have pride in their surroundings and the hard-pressed local construction industry.”