Oldham MP calls for action over school maintenance issues

The government must “intervene” and tell a firm to fix a school which has been plagued with maintenance problems, an MP has told the House of Commons.

Oldham MP Jim McMahon said Amber Infrastructure Group (AIG) had paid out £80m in dividends but had not addressed issues at Chadderton’s Newman College.

Head teacher Glyn Potts previously said students’ education was sufferingdue to state of the building.

AIG said it had repaired the site’s roof and heating since taking it on.

During a debate last week, Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton MP told Damian Hinds, the Minister of State for Education, “30 classrooms” had been disrupted at the school, due to consistent faults.

“Will the government intervene and say to the provider: ‘If the money is there to take in dividends, it’s there to fix the roof too?”

Mr Hinds promised to discuss the college’s contract with the MP after the parliamentary session.

Buckets at Newman Catholic College

Speaking later, Mr Potts said the school had little control over the way repairs were dealt with due to the complexity of the contract.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that a “resolution” was needed to what was “almost a weekly failure in the building since 2012”.

He said the situation was “unacceptable”, especially in light of it being “financed by public money”.

“The children of Greater Manchester, our future generation, should be getting a smooth education, but they’re not because of the complexities of a contract,” he added.

An AIG representative said dividends had not been paid at its subsidiary, Oldham BSF Limited, which has owned Newman College since 2016 as part of a private finance initiative contract with Oldham Council.

They said repairs had been made to the heating system and leaks in the roof had been fixed since it took over ownership, and while there some “minor” leaks in a “very small number of locations”, any temporary loss of heating had been “remedied on the same day”.

A Department for Education representative said the firm had done “significant” work on the school.