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Asbestos scare forces school closure

PUBLISHED: 16:42 04 June 2019 | UPDATED: 20:54 06 June 2019

Asbestos is extremely dangerous if disturbed as it releases fibres into the air that can cause cancer 

Picture: CLIFFORD HICKS

Asbestos is extremely dangerous if disturbed as it releases fibres into the air that can cause cancer Picture: CLIFFORD HICKS

Westgate Primary School in Bury St Edmunds was closed at just a few hours notice after concerns about an asbestos panel ahead of renovation works.

Westgate Primary School in Bury St Edmunds was forced to close on Tuesday, June 4 as a precaution after pre-work checks revealed the panel had previously been moved.

In an email to parents and carers on Monday afternoon, headteacher Jenny Cockett said: "Due to unexpected circumstances and the need for emergency repair work, I have made the difficult decision that the school will be closed (tomorrow) on Tuesday 4th June.

"I recognise that this will be very inconvenient. However, this decision has been taken with the children's well being in mind."

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said work was about to begin on a new secure lobby area for the school, which is in Brooklands Close.

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He said: "Prior to the works being undertaken, a refurbishment and demolition survey was carried out. This survey identified a tile of asbestos that had been previously disturbed.

"This prompted additional checks to take place with immediate effect. As a precaution, the decision was made to close the school, which is why the school was unable to let parents know about the closure beforehand.

"The checks have concluded that the school is safe and, as a result, will be open again tomorrow."

The spokesman said workmen had remained on site throughout Tuesday to safely remove the panel but the school was still scheduled to re-open on Wednesday.

The school takes children from nursery age up to year-six.

Asbestos was widely used in the building industry until the late 1980s before being totally banned in 2003.

It is extremely dangerous if disturbed or damaged as it releases fibres into the air which can, if inhaled, cause serious diseases in the long-term, including lung cancer.

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